I am a senior rental resident of the West End of South Portland. I have a good landlord and had expected that I would be able to “age in place.” However, my rent has increased over the past three years by just under 20 percent, while the cost-of-living increases for Social Security have totaled 2 percent for the same time period. Workforce wage earners in my neighborhood, who work in the retail and service jobs that are abundant nearby, have had stagnant incomes for decades.
One can cut just so much fat before you get to the point where there is only bone left. This is not sustainable. Free-market forces, where the apartments go to whoever can create the highest amount of profit for investors, have created a situation where important components of civic life are ignored. Population stability, community-building and place-making, neighborhood cohesion, and quality-of-life issues need to be factored in to any sustainable housing equation.
Some sort of support system for South Portland’s tenant population needs to be implemented immediately. Waiting for willing, profit-driven landlords to step forward to build more market-rate housing is not the solution to a problem that has already reached a crisis point.