Maine’s House Speaker pushes for affordable housing solutions

Speaker Fecteau grew up in low-income affordable housing in Maine, now he aims to expand these options

AUGUSTA – Today Speaker Ryan Fecteau will address a national housing conference Up for Growth: The Virtual Summit for Housing Changemakers. He will discuss statewide approaches to zoning reform with state leaders from Virginia and Nebraska. The panel will stream live as part of a housing conference that will be headlined by U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, Marcia Fudge. 

To prepare for the conference, Fecteau was a guest on the Infill Podcast, a pro-affordable housing podcast produced by YIMBY Action. Published this week, the episode covers affordable housing solutions Maine is working on, including an upcoming affordable housing complex in Skowhegan, and Fecteau’s personal story growing up in low-income affordable housing. Listen to the episode Housing Changemaker Series with Ryan Fecteau here.

Along with Senator Craig Hickman, Fecteau is serving as Chair of the Commission to Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Zoning and Land Use Restrictions. The Commission began meeting in August, covering Maine’s current approach to zoning, municipal issues involving zoning and the historical role of race and racism in zoning policies. The Commission is expected to publish a report on their findings that includes policy proposals for Maine in November. Fecteau’s bill, LD 609, Resolve, To Establish a Commission To Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Zoning and Land Use Restrictions was passed into law this year as an effort to tackle systemic issues holding Maine back from building and renovating more affordable housing. The Commission will meet today and the meeting will stream live on Youtube.

“Maine is facing an affordable housing crisis,” said Speaker Fecteau. “Our Commission’s work is about cutting the red tape standing in the way of building and revitalizing more affordable housing here in Maine. In too many municipalities, a web of various zoning and land use ordinances and state laws, some decades old, are preventing sensible affordable housing projects — big and small — from coming to fruition. We aren’t only thinking of erecting new housing; we hope to explore ways to incentivize the revitalization of buildings and housing stock that already exists across Maine.”

According to the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, nearly 31,000 renters — 1 in 5 Maine renters — pay more than half their income toward housing costs, and, for every family living in an affordable, federally subsidized unit, nearly three families are on a waiting list. 

Signed by Governor Mills in February 2020, Fecteau’s bill LD 1645, An Act To Create Affordable Workforce and Senior Housing and Preserve Affordable Rural Housing doubled the current rate of new affordable housing production by creating the Maine Affordable Housing Tax Credit program. It was the single largest state investment in housing in Maine’s history. “The bipartisan work that went into this bill demonstrated that together we can make significant headway on one of the largest challenges facing our state — providing safe, affordable housing to our working families,” said Fecteau. Projects in Skowhegan, Portland and Bath will break ground this year, with over 300 new affordable units set to provide Maine families a dignified place to live.



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