A housing official says construction and renovation are currently underway

in the area.

LEWISTON – As Rick Porter pulled a report together this week for federal housing authorities, he was amazed at the number of people on his waiting list that had zero income.

No job, no Social Security, no disability benefits, nothing.

“Imagine yourself having no income and trying to survive,” said Porter, rental program manager for the Lewiston Housing Authority.

He and other local housing professionals spoke to Bates College’s Hunger and Homelessness Committee Friday afternoon, offering a brief primer on the state of local, affordable housing.

Porter has 211 people on a waiting list for Section 8 housing vouchers, he said. That waiting list has been closed for 13 months.

He doesn’t like to get people on it and make them wait for more than a year to find homes, but that’s starting to happen.

People keep asking him when it’s going to open back up, when they can put their names on, Porter said, but he’s just not sure.

Another 169 families are on waiting lists for public housing.

Yvette Bedard, housing and community development officer for the city, said the situation is improving. More new construction is taking place downtown, and more than 300 units at Tall Pines public housing will be completely renovated over the next three years.

About 50 of those units are currently vacant.

Bedard said the overall vacancy rate for downtown Lewiston is 7 to 10 percent, a good number. “There are units still out there available.”

She said several projects downtown will focus on ownership as well as renting.

The Maine State Housing Authority has just started allowing families to use their Section 8 vouchers as mortgage payments, Porter said. It’s something the Lewiston Housing Authority will be exploring, he added.

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