SACO – A former church on School Street in Saco is set to become affordable housing, thanks to a unanimous vote by Saco City Council on April 23.

The property at 12 School St. was Saco’s United Methodist Church for many years – but in 2001 it was sold to a private entity and then to the city of Saco in 2019. The city had intended to use the space for a teen center, but later decided that the necessary renovations were too expensive and opted instead to sell the property, according to city documents.

The city put the property up for sale and received one bid from Quality Housing Coalition, a housing nonprofit that’s known for their flagship program Project HOME. Project HOME provides tenancy management services, partnering with landlords to rent to tenants who have been unhoused or experienced other forms of housing insecurity. The City Council sold the church to Quality Housing Coalition for $1.

Quality Housing Coalition intends to turn the church into six deed-restricted affordable apartments on the first floor of the building. The second floor of the building will be a mix-used space for meetings and programming that will be available to local organizations, the city, as well as residents.

City Administrator John Bohenko highlighted that two of the apartments will be devoted to housing for city staff in need of housing.

City Councilor Tricia Huot asked whether it’s possible to require that the housing remains affordable in perpetuity, even if the property is sold, and how Quality Housing Coalition is defining affordable.

Economic Development Director Tracey Desjardins said the developer plans to apply for federal funding to rehab the property, which will place affordability requirements on them.

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