AARP Maine, Avesta Housing and Homeless Voices for Justice announced their opposition to Portland’s Question 2 during a press conference at an affordable housing project under construction on Munjoy Hill.
“At a time when AARP Maine is working with Portland to ensure the city is a community for all ages to live, work and play, this proposal is very restrictive and would greatly impact housing options for older and middle-income Portlanders,” said Lori Parham, AARP Maine State Director. “As currently written, the referendum is also confusing and unclear to voters. AARP Maine urges Portland voters to Vote No on Portland Question 2.”
AARP Maine is a nonprofit social mission organization working on behalf of 230,000 people 50 and older statewide.
Avesta Housing is one of the largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing in New England and is consistently recognized nationally for groundbreaking work bringing together nonprofit, for-profit, private and public-sector organizations for the benefit of Maine communities.
“Last year more than 3,000 households sought an affordable home from Avesta, but we were only able to help about 300 because resources are so scarce,” said Dana Totman, President of Avesta Housing. “Now, in 2015, requests for our housing are up by another 25 percent overall and more than 45 percent among senior households. In the face of much needed affordable housing, our concern is that at least six of the affordable properties we have built in Portland in recent years, now housing more than 200 seniors and families, may never have happened if this proposed view referendum was in place. An additional hurdle to creating much needed affordable housing is a risk that people in need of affordable housing can’t afford.”
Homeless Voices for Justice also announced its opposition to Question 2. The organization is led and organized by people who have struggled with homelessness and seeks to empower disenfranchised people.
“There are nearly 500 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in Portland – evidence of the housing crisis we face in this city,” said William Higgins, Advocate, Homeless Voices for Justice. “Any policy that has the potential to block affordable housing development poses a great risk to our most vulnerable community members. We simply can't afford to take that risk."
“Portland’s Question 2 is poorly written and overly broad. It goes too far and will hurt every neighbor in our city, making it harder for people to afford to live, work and build their businesses here,” said Lisa Whited, co-chair of the No on Portland’s Question 2 campaign. “Our coalition continues to grow as more people realize that Portland’s Question 2 will hold our city back.”
Other organizations that have announced opposition to Portland’s Question 2 include GrowSmart Maine, the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Real Estate and Development Association, The Greater Portland Board of REALTORS®, Maine Commercial Association of REALTORS®, the Portland Society for Architecture and growing list of small businesses.
In addition to the endorsement, AARP Maine and Avesta reminded voters that there will be two Question 2s on the ballot in Portland. The statewide Question 2 is a bond to support senior housing, which is supported by AARP Maine, Avesta Housing and Portland’s Future, the political action committee leading the No on 2 campaign in Portland. Portland Question 2 is the land use ordinance, which the groups oppose based upon its impacts on senior and affordable housing.