We have owned a business in downtown Lewiston for 25 years. We strongly support the project to replace homes lost to the fires.

We are a long way from too many decent, affordable apartments in downtown neighborhoods. Private landlords have not been able to provide sufficient units in good condition for folks who need to live downtown.

We believe that private investment capital will follow when apartment buildings and cooperative housing units that are in good condition are the rule and not the exception.

The project makes wise, compassionate investment of our tax dollars to progress the quality of life in the downtown. That is how we, as a community, move forward with economic development that benefits everyone.

Many downtown residents are employed and working hard for themselves and their families. Low wages make it essential to find affordable, sometimes subsidized rents, just to survive.

Many downtown residents are disabled, and low rents mean the difference between affording food and going hungry.

The city has stepped forward to assist landlords whose buildings are privately maintained. The new project is privately owned. Our public dollars are already invested in sustaining our collective economic health, and the livelihoods of all stakeholders in the downtown: roads, lights, public safety, health care, recreation. These contribute to the profitability of commercial housing. Assistance with trash collections would benefit everyone.

But we need to keep moving toward the turning point, when decent homes are truly available to everyone.

Jim Cogan and Peg Hoffman, Auburn

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