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I recently received the following letter from a worried parent. Her heartbreaking story reminded me why it's so important to wisely spend limited taxpayer dollars to construct the greatest number of low-income apartments for those in need.
Her disabled son now lives in a safe "Section 8" apartment out of state, not being able to get off the waiting list in Maine. On any given night, nearly 800 fellow Mainers sleep in homeless shelters across the state. Thousands more of our most vulnerable citizens hope for a safe, warm affordable apartment to call home.
During the past several years, Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA) has funneled federal, state, and local tax dollars to finance the construction of 1,100-square-foot low-income apartments costing up to $292,000 each. Scrutiny by the new MSHA board stalled the Elm Terrace units in downtown Portland once budgeted at $314,000 each. In December, the MSHA executive director approved the 38 Elm Terrace units at a cost to taxpayers of $265,000 per apartment.
As we start the New Year, the MSHA board will continue to push the staff to build a larger number of less costly apartments rather than a smaller number of expensive units. This new focus will help the thousands of homeless and greatly disadvantaged Maine families get off the waiting list and into safe, warm apartments. The new strategy will also be fair to the taxpayers who pay the bills.
Maine State Treasurer
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