Amid Maine’s housing crisis, there are two fundamental problems that our state has yet to tackle: housing affordability for very low-income households and source of income discrimination.

Households most at risk of losing their home or remaining unhoused are those at or below 30% of area median income. New affordable housing is usually not affordable to this economic class of renters. New affordable housing is typically affordable to households at 50% AMI or above. Very low-income households require monthly rental assistance to afford their housing. Rental assistance waitlists for income-qualified households are very long, and applicants face homelessness and eviction while they wait two to five years for a voucher. This financial burden then falls to towns and municipalities, where General Assistance often fails to perform as effectively as housing vouchers would perform. Furthermore, many private landlords are practicing source of income discrimination against people who utilize rental assistance, further narrowing the supply of available housing.

L.D. 1710, the Home Act, creates 2,000 new state housing vouchers and outlaws the practice of rental assistance discrimination. While the original bill would have funded a program to address the entire wait list, L.D. 1710, as amended, creates the program to begin addressing this massive affordability gap and also strengthens protections for tenants who use rental assistance. I encourage those who are concerned about what Maine is doing to address the housing crisis to ask our state legislators to support L.D. 1710.

Craig Saddlemire

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