In his remarks, Governor Mills affirms Maine’s commitment to creating safe, stable and affordable housing for the people of Maine to live in dignity and comfort.
Governor Janet Mills today joined U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge to launch America House, a new national partnership to fight homelessness.
America House is the federal government’s direct response to the homelessness crisis in the country and will encourage state, county, tribal and local authorities to use American Rescue Plan Act investments for relocation and housing construction additional funds to support homeless people.
In his opening remarks, Governor Mills affirmed Maine’s commitment to use federal funds to house 1,000 homeless people and add 500 affordable housing units to the state’s pipeline.
“Maine is a proud partner of America House, ” Governor Mills said. “We will continue to work hard to ensure that everyone has a safe and stable home, using essential resources from the US bailout to help house the homeless.”
As part of the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, which is Governor Mills’ plan to invest US bailout funds, the governor has allocated $ 50 million to expand affordable housing options for workers and their families to own. or for rent. This includes the expansion of Maine Housing Navigator services that connect Maine individuals and families to housing, help them complete rental applications, and support successful landlord-tenant relationships.
During the pandemic, Maine was also successful in preventing evictions at a faster rate than most other states by distributing nearly $ 63 million in federal rent relief funds to more than 11,000 Maine households (PDF ) under a program administered by MaineHousing.
The governor’s work to develop housing and tackle homelessness builds on his administration’s commitment to addressing these critical issues. One of the first actions of Governor Mills in office was to release $ 15 million in bonds that funded affordable housing for Maine seniors. She also enacted a bill creating the Maine Affordable Housing Tax Credit Program, which aims to double the current rate of production of new affordable housing.
Governor Mills and the Maine legislature have also partnered on legislation to create a local zoning and land use commission, which is meeting to explore ways to create additional housing density.
Nationally, COVID-19 has created greater urgency to tackle homelessness, given the increased risks faced by people who are homeless. At the same time, COVID-19 has slowed relocation due to capacity issues and impacts on vacant housing in the rental market.
In March, HUD released its Annual Homelessness Assessment 2020 Part 1 to Congress, which found that more than 580,000 people were homeless in the United States on a single night in January 2020, before the pandemic.
To learn more about America House, visit: www.hud.gov/house_america.
Governor Mills’ full remarks, as prepared for delivery, can be viewed HERE and are below:
As you may know, there is a sign at the State of Maine border that says “Welcome Home”. It is there so that everyone who comes to our state for the first time or the thousandth time will know that they can find a home here.
A house is more than brick and beams. Home is where my husband, Stan, and I raised five daughters. Where we sat at the kitchen table paying the bills and helping with homework. This is where we slept safely each night.
This gift is a gift I will never take for granted and I am committed to ensuring that each person has a home of their own.
Today we take another important step towards achieving that goal as a proud participant in House America, a national effort to end homelessness.
Here in Maine, we’ve set a goal of rehousing 1,000 currently homeless households and adding at least 500 new affordable or supportive homeless housing units to our pipeline.
In addition to the emergency housing vouchers and HOME funds provided to Maine through the US bailout, my Maine Jobs and Stimulus Plan recognizes the housing and homelessness emergency and directs people to other federal coronavirus and local tax clawback funds to meet immediate needs.
We have created “Housing Navigators” to connect homeless individuals and families with housing, to help these people complete their rental applications, and to provide support services that foster successful landlord-tenant relationships.
In partnership with the state legislature, we enacted law to create a local zoning and land use commission to explore how we can develop more affordable multi-family housing and we enacted law to create the program of nation’s most efficient affordable housing tax credit.
In partnership with the Maine State Housing Authority, we also distributed nearly $ 63 million in federal relief funds to 11,460 households, preventing evictions faster than almost any other state in the country.
These actions would not have been possible without the formidable partnership of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the Biden administration. Thanks, Secretary Fudge.
Maine is a proud partner of House America. I look forward to working with my fellow governors and with the federal government to achieve our goal of ending homelessness in our country until everyone can hear those two short words that can mean the world: “Welcome. at home.