The Brunswick Town Council on Monday established a $1 million affordable housing fund in hopes of easing the housing crunch.

It’s the council’s latest move to address soaring housing costs. In June, it approved new rules requiring some new housing developments to include a certain percentage of affordable units. Both measures were put forth by the town’s housing committee, established last year.

The Affordable Housing Support Fund is fed by a $500,000 state grant from MaineHousing, $250,000 in revenue from the Cook’s Corner tax increment financing district and $250,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds awarded to the town.

“It’s supporting the production, preservation and direct assistance for affordable housing,” Sally Costello, the town’s director of economic and community development, said of the fund. “It’s going to improve blighted areas.”

The fund could be used for the construction of new housing developments, the repair of old buildings, and helping homeowners with down payments and weatherization, according to Costello.

“It’s a sizeable amount of money, and we hope it will continue to grow with other contributions and grants,” she said.


The council must approve grants awarded through the fund.

“This is going at affordable housing across the board,” council Chairperson James Mason said.

Costello said grants for developers are intended for projects that provide affordable housing to households earning up to 80% of the region’s median income. The median household income in the Brunswick area last year was about $72,000, according to federal statistics.

Costello said the fund could help alleviate two of the town’s major housing problems: a lack of supply and aging structures. Housing Committee member Carol O’Donnell said it could also help keep people in their homes.

“We have a problem with homelessness,” O’Donnell said. “It’s important to think of this in terms of helping people.”

Resident and renter Nathan MacDonald said it’s difficult to find apartments in town below $2,000 a month. He said the fund should be used with homeowners in mind.

“Any affordable housing initiative is better than no affordable housing initiative,” MacDonald told the council, which unanimously approved the fund. “But I would also stress looking at homeownership also, because currently we all just get here and then we get trapped into paying someone all of our money instead of building up assets and we get stuck in the cycle.”

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