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9000 Seniors Await Housing, According to Survey

PORTLAND, Maine _ Almost 9000 Maine seniors are currently waiting for affordable housing. That's according to data released by the Maine Real Estate Managers Association, the members of which are landlords and property managers, who must often tell seniors that no housing is available.

"There's just not enough affordable homes for them," says MREMA president, Sherrin Vail. "They stay where they are as long as they can, whether that's a house that they've owned for 50 years. But as they age in place the house just doesn't work for them. They could have a two story house with a bathroom on the second floor yet their mobility issues don't allow them to climb stairs, or their fixed income really limits the money they can spend on fuel, and fuel costs go up."

MREMA surveyed its membership, consisting of 89 landlords and property managers, to see how many seniors are currently on waiting lists for properties available through rent programs designed to provide affordable housing for seniors. But Vail says the need is probably much greater than the 8,975 figure, as only 40% of the group's members responded.

MREMA  is a member of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition which earlier this year released similar findings. MAHC also projects the senior housing shortage will grow to 15,000 by 2022.

"The solution is, they need more housing options." says Vail.

The data come as proponents, including MREMA, are gathering support for a bond proposal to fund more housing.

 The bipartisan proposal called KeepME Home was unveiled by Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves last summer. The initiative would provide for the construction of about 1,000 new units for seniors in 40 different communities across the state, using a $65 million general obligation bond.