LEWISTON — A downtown Lewiston housing cooperative wants to begin work renovating its third property later this summer, with a little help from city and federal dollars.

Craig Saddlemire of the Raise-Op Housing Cooperative asked city councilors Tuesday to set aside up to $204,750 in federal HOME funds to help renovate the nine-unit apartment building at 141 Pierce St.

“It is a sound structure,” Saddlemire said Tuesday. “It is central and visible in the neighborhood and it’s got some room to expand. The things we want to do are essential system improvements — heating, electrical, plumbing and some bathroom upgrades.”

The organization is a private nonprofit supported by members, private loans, grants and donations.

It started as Faire-Op Housing in 2008, opening the robin’s-egg blue building at 75 Maple St. It expanded last summer and changed its name to Raise-Op with the opening of the second building, a bright yellow three-story building at 79 Maple St.

The cooperative sells shares to tenants, giving them a say in decisions about the building’s maintenance and upkeep.


“The equity stays here,” Saddlemire said. “We use it to leverage more products, and if there are savings, the residents decide how they get allocated, which is primarily back into the improvement of the property.”

Members need to purchase a share in the cooperative — about $750 per share. They pay monthly “carrying charges” of about $650 — rent, fees for utilities and whatever the building members’ group decides needs to be set aside for repairs and maintenance.

The group is also there to decide house rules, divide up chores — like who shovels the walks on a given morning — and help settle member disputes.

“We are really trying to capture the wealth this project generates, in terms of the financial capital as well as the human capital to leverage the energy, the ideas and labor that is right there,” Saddlemire said. “The potential is all right there in the neighborhood. We just have to create opportunities and relationships with the residents in the neighborhood so that they can act on them.”

City Administrator Ed Barrett said councilors should expect the see the matter on their July 19 meeting agenda.

Councilors and Mayor Robert Macdonald said they like the program.

“I think we really need this,” Macdonald said. “The one thing it does is give people ownership as opposed to renting. When you own something, you take better care of it, so I think this is the answer to a lot of our problems downtown.”

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