Most people would agree that restoring historic buildings is a worthy goal. But to finance that effort through tax credits to wealthy developers, using money from the state’s Housing Opportunities for Maine fund, is short-sighted.

The Home Fund is the single most important pool of money available to create and rehabilitate affordable housing in Maine. It is a housing trust fund that can leverage 10 to 20 times itself in federal funds. The Home Fund is one of the few pools of money that generates dollars to be used in Maine for affordable housing development through the building of new housing and the rehabilitation of older buildings. That translates into job creation and energy savings.

The Legislature’s decision this session to pay for historic preservation with Home Fund money prevents the state from leveraging millions of matching dollars from the federal government at a time when our economy is heading toward recession.

The Home Fund is about more than money, though. It’s about giving people a chance to get back on their feet and begin to give back … a win for everyone. Imagine trying to get a job or to care for your children or yourself without a place to call home. Imagine not having a table to put your feet under at night, regardless of how modest that table is.

Preserving historic buildings is important, but we can’t choose a tax credit for historic building preservation at the expense of attending to the basic needs of human beings.

Mary Ann Larson, New Gloucester

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