Bath could receive $745K for housing improvements

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BATH — The City Council on July 11 is expected to decide whether to accept $745,000 in federal money to fund the renovation of an apartment building on Lincoln Street, as well as other properties.

The Maine Office of Community Development informed City Manager Peter Owen June 22 that after reviewing Bath’s Community Development Block Grant application, the office was inviting city officials to advance the project to the development phase. The invitation is contingent on funding coming through from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Confirmation of the city’s receipt of the funds should come later this year, Assistant City Manager Marc Meyers said June 28.

Bath Housing would use the funds in part to renovate six apartments at 41-43 Lincoln St., a multi-family home erected in 1915.

“We expect to buy up to three additional multi-family buildings and are actively seeking properties in Bath at this time,” said Debora Keller, executive director of Bath Housing. “Our hope is to rehab 18 apartments through this grant.”

Because a municipality must apply for the funding, the city serves as the grantee on behalf of Bath Housing, Meyers said. The units would be affordable to households at or below 80 percent of the area median income.

A similar partnership with the city and block grant program allowed Bath Housing to renovate housing at 28 Maple St., where an open house was held in January.

Bath Housing used MaineHousing loan funds to purchase Lincoln Street, and will likely use additional funds of that type to buy future properties, Keller explained.

“The receipt of this $745,000 grant is excellent news for Bath,” she said. “The funds will enable Bath Housing to continue its work to increase the quantity and quality of moderately priced rental housing in our community.”

“Quality rental homes are scarce and expensive, yet wages in Maine are stuck in place,” Keller added. “In recent years, tight standards for mortgage loans and high home prices have made it impossible for many to buy homes, causing more people to become renters. However, large numbers of renters and a scarce supply of rental housing have driven up rents.”

Wages, meanwhile, have not kept pace.

“This forces families to spend large portions of their incomes on housing and leaves less money for other needs, like nutritious food, good health care, safe transportation, and quality child care,” Keller said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Bath Housing plans to renovate six apartments at 41-43 Lincoln St. in Bath, thanks to an anticipated $745,000 in federal funds.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.