Affordable Housing Advocates Rally In Augusta

AUGUSTA — It is coming down to that time of year when the legislature must make some hard choices in order to balance the budget. That’s why advocates for low income housing and the homeless took their message to the statehouse Tuesday.

They held a rally to protest proposed cuts to the state’s “home fund.” Organizers say the trust fund is critical because it provides housing for the homeless, as well as people with disabilities. The fund also helps first time home buyers.

Advocates also say there is an affordable housing crisis in Maine, and the legislature should leave the fund intact.

They’re supporting a bill that would prevent the legislature from raiding the home fund. They say republicans are trying to cut $15 million, while democrats want to slash five million. They say the Governor proposed keeping it at full funding in his proposed budget.

“The state of Maine has consistently said that we want to end homelessness in Maine. We have a strategic plan to end homelessness and our goal is to do that. We can’t with one hand say we want to end homelessness and with the other take funds away that provide housing for homeless people, that provide people with more stable lives. In the long run, housing is more cost effective than leaving people in shelters,” said homeless advocate Steve Houston.

The home fund is based on a percentage of the real estate transfer tax that the state takes in. Depending on what that amount is, advocates say there would be very little money left in the fund if the proposed cuts go through.