Developer: Tax credits help encourage affordable housing and ‘economic engines’ – Mainebiz

Developer: Tax credits help encourage affordable housing and ‘economic engines’ – Mainebiz

Nathan Szanton, president of the Portland-based real estate development firm Szanton Co., said building affordable housing is like creating economic engines for a community.

Szanton cited the Lewiston Picker House affordable housing development as an example of that. 

“Picker House Lofts, as we’re calling it, will add 72 new households — 72 little economic engines — to the downtowns of Lewiston and Auburn,” Szanton added.

Picker House Lofts is one of seven housing developments to build or preserve 332 affordable housing units around the state that will get a boost from investment from MaineHousing.

MaineHousing, an independent state authority, will give a $71.5 million funding boost to the seven projects across the state through federal and state tax credits, equity from private investors, and other subsidies and loans.  

Other projects include the preservation of a rural development project in Belfast and two new construction projects on the former Mercy Hospital campus in Portland.

Szanton said tax credits from MaineHousing are a key part of the funding for the Picker House Lofts project.
“We’re thrilled to receive this allocation of affordable housing tax credits from MaineHousing,” said Szanton. “It will enable us to bring to life about 85,000 square feet of the former Picker House in the beautiful Continental Mill, right on the banks of the Androscoggin River.” 

Affordable housing has been a hot button issue in some towns even as the housing crunch and pandemic make housing more expensive for many families. 

The Szanton Co. recently dropped plans for what would have been the first affordable housing project in 50 years in Cape Elizabeth after opposition and a referendum signed by some local residents. But, other communities, such as Old Orchard Beach, Skowhegan, Westbrook and Portland, have recently embraced some affordable housing developments.

The MaineHousing funding includes the allocation of Maine Affordable Housing Tax Credits and federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) for the projects. The tax credits will generate more than $44.1 million in equity from private investors. That will be combined with additional subsidy and loans from MaineHousing. Overall, $71.5 million of MaineHousing funding will leverage additional public and private sources to create or preserve the 332 housing units, MaineHousing said. 
“We are excited to make these awards and keep the momentum going to create more affordable rental housing in Maine,” MaineHousing Director Daniel Brennan said. “Our pipeline of projects has never been bigger, and our production numbers continue to set records. These investments mean hundreds of additional safe, affordable homes are on the way for our workforce and our older Mainers.” 

Courtesy / MaineHousing

MaineHousing Director Daniel Brennan oversees the investment in affordable housing.

Created in 1969, MaineHousing is a $1.8 billion financial institution with a staff of over 180 people. MaineHousing assists more than 90,000 Maine households and invests more than $300 million in the Maine economy annually. 
Of the units being built or preserved, 281 will serve households at or below 60% of the area median income or $42,720 for a family of four, in the Lewiston-Auburn area.
“This tax credit award is a key investment in transforming the Tree Streets neighborhood in downtown Lewiston,” said Chris Kilmurry, the executive director of the Lewiston Housing Authority.

“So many people and …….