Bill to Force Senior Housing Bond Fails

AUGUSTA – The Maine House failed to override a veto (89-58) Thursday of LD 832, “An Act to Carry Out the Will of the People of the State of Maine by Ensuring the Issuance of Bonds to Support the Independence of Maine’s Seniors”. The bill would have forced Governor LePage to issue $15 million in voter-approved bonds designated to build affordable housing for senior citizens.

“Right now, there are more than 9,000 senior households on waiting lists for an affordable home,” said Speaker of the House Sara Gideon. “And yet, the shovel-ready projects necessary to get these folks into the housing they so desperately need will continue to remain blocked. This bill was critical for ensuring that the executive branch recognize that it is time we provide our seniors with safe, accessible and affordable housing and I am disappointed in today’s result.”

In 2015, with broad bipartisan support, the legislature authorized the sale of a $15 million general obligation bond, to be used in combination with $22.5 million in leveraged funds, for the construction of affordable, highly energy efficient homes for Maine’s seniors in strategic locations across the state. In November of that year, this bond proposal was approved by an overwhelming majority of nearly 70% of Maine voters. The bond will build approximately 225 affordable senior homes, doubling the amount Maine is currently building each year. However, under the governor’s direction, the state treasurer has yet to issue the bonds.

“There is no sensible reason to delay the issuance of these bonds,” said Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook), chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. “Not only is this bond good for our seniors, it supports our economy, improves energy efficiency and increases municipal revenue. These projects should have started long ago when approved by the legislature and Maine voters.”

Speaker Gideon is the lead cosponsor of LD 832, which removes the state requirement that the state treasurer issue the housing bonds under the governor’s direction. Voter-approved bonds expire in five years under the state constitution.