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Politics

Mills Signs Off On $15M In Senior Housing Bonds Approved By Maine Voters In 2015

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Gov. Janet Mills signs housing bonds, approved by Maine voters in 2015, at an event in Augusta Tuesday.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has authorized the sale of $15 million in senior housing bonds that were approved by voters three years ago but held up by her predecessor, Gov. Paul LePage. Mills authorized the bonds during a heavily-attended event at the State House Hall of Flags. The governor said the bonds were long overdue and could help address the need of Maine seniors seeking affordable housing options or assistance updating their homes.

"While the people of Maine authorized this bond 1,169 days ago, today we move forward," she said.

The bonds were approved by nearly 70 percent of Maine voters in 2015 after receiving supermajority support from Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature.

Greg Payne, director of the Maine Affordable Housing Commission, said that the bonds will help 9,000 seniors awaiting affordable housing options and thousands more seeking repair assistance so they can stay in their homes.

"In normal times those voter-approved funds would have gone to work immediately," Payne said. "Unfortunately, the people who would benefit from this initiative were forced to wait for three years, indefensibly really, until today."

Gov. LePage held back the bonds citing financial reasons and claiming, without evidence, that the  funds would provide a windfall to certain housing developers. Mills's authorization means that the bulk of the housing bonds will be sold when the state goes to market later in the spring.

Updated Jan. 15, 2019 at 1:48 p.m. ET.