LEWISTON — A slate of loan programs and a softened rule aimed at disorderly tenants had support of both city officials and downtown landlords Tuesday night.

“The loan programs are awesome, and I see in the future spreading it out of downtown to the rest of the city,” property owner Stan Pelletier said. “I may not live to see it, but my grandchildren might, and I think that’s great.”

Councilors reviewed city programs and policies designed to promote the redevelopment of downtown housing stock during a Tuesday night workshop meeting,

They include loans and grants for small- and medium-sized properties, landlord training programs and policies that target problem properties, encourage investors to work with abandoned properties and help fund downtown housing programs.

“Part of the idea has been to come up with an approach that serves to assist our landlords in that downtown area, some of whom are struggling with high costs, vacancy rates and low rents,” City Administrator Ed Barrett said.

He said the city has been working to improve downtown housing for years, but the work took on new urgency last spring after a series of downtown fires.

Mayor Robert Macdonald championed new city codes that would crack down on troublesome properties. Those rules would require owners and landlords to fix situations in which their tenants are causing problems — disturbing their neighbors or committing crimes.

Barrett said staff is proposing less stringent rules for dealing with nuisance properties, making it a staff policy instead of a city ordinance. That would take away fines that could have been levied on landlords but would encourage them to work with city staff.

“I’m really excited about some of these programs,” City Councilor Mark Cayer said.

He said councilors had learned a lot after approving a public housing project that came forward in the wake of the fires. According to that proposal, Volunteers of America Northern New England would have replaced buildings on lots burned in a downtown blaze on May 3 — 110 and 114 Pierce St. and 145 and 149 Bartlett St.

The city would have given those properties to Volunteers of America Northern New England at no cost, would have waived fees on the project and created a 15-year Tax Increment Financing District.

Local landlords objected, saying they preferred city support go to local developers.

The project ultimately fell apart when it was unable to qualify for tax credits from MaineHousing.

Tuesday, councilors said they learned from that experience.

“It’s a way of our councilors saying, ‘We heard you from last time,'” Cayer said. “It’s a way of telling our mayor that we heard him, because he warned us when we approved the VOA project that if we do this stuff, we need to provide for local landlords. Now, we’ve done that.”

Tuesday’s discussion included promotion of an existing program that provides loans to small housing properties, from one- to four-unit buildings. Owners can qualify for up to $20,000 per unit for major renovation projects.

Another program encourages owners of larger properties to make energy-efficiency upgrades through Efficiency Maine. It would encourage landlords to get energy audits and rebate them half of what they spend on upgrades if they follow the audit’s recommendations.

Barrett said another plan would provide training for new landlords.

“It might go over the kind of support and assistance programs the city has, make sure they know the city garbage collections in the downtown works,” Barrett said. “There is some potential training with police about what landlords should be aware of.”

Barrett said the city is also considering ways to encourage new developers and buyers to buy vacant properties that are not failing yet and is considering a requirement that future public housing projects pay a fee to support the city’s downtown housing programs.

“A percentage of whatever property tax the city receives would go back into these kinds of programs,” Barrett said. “It would go into a benefit fund for the downtown that would assist loan or grant programs or anything else we need to do down here.”

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