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Project will expand housing for at-risk women in Portland

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Project will expand housing for at-risk women in Portland

PORTLAND — Mercy Health System is moving its housing program for homeless, at-risk women to a new building that will more than double the capacity of the program.

Mercy announced last week that the McAuley Residence will move in January to an affordable-housing complex now being built at 68 High St.

McAuley will offer 16 transitional housing apartments for women and their children in a wing of the building, up from six apartments the program now operates a few blocks away, at 91 State St.

The building is the site of long-defunct Portland Children's Hospital, and is being renovated by Community Housing of Maine, a nonprofit developer of supportive housing for people with disabilities and low incomes.

In 2010, Community Housing announced plans to develop an affordable-housing complex on the hospital site and an adjacent vacant lot. The Elm Terrace complex is expected to open in January. But the project last year attracted critics, who complained that at $265,000, its units will be too expensive.

Built in 1909, the Children's Hospital building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After the hospital closed in 1942, the building housed administrative and teaching offices for what is now the University of Southern Maine.

Meanwhile, plans continue for Mercy, which also operates 230-bed Mercy Hospital, to be sold to to Steward Health Care System, a for-profit hospital chain based in Boston.

On Aug. 20, Mercy announced it had signed a non-binding letter of intent to negotiate its sale to Steward, which operates 10 community hospitals in eastern Massachusetts. 

If successful, the sale would be the first acquisition in Maine of an acute-care hospital by a for-profit company.

The sale would have to be approved by state and federal regulators, a process that could last well into 2013.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.