LEWISTON — The city and Community Concepts were awarded a $1.3 million federal grant Thursday to upgrade affordable housing downtown.

The money comes through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants Program, which helps communities transform neighborhoods by revitalizing housing.

In a letter penned last year to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, wrote in support of the city’s application. The city, in partnership with Community Concepts, “aims to improve the city’s current stock of affordable housing units located in its downtown district, which would help revive the neighborhood,” she wrote.

The city is expected to be the first in the state to receive this grant, Collins’ office wrote in a news release.

Lewiston’s downtown affordable housing was largely built in the beginning of the 20th century, and much of it has significantly deteriorated and is in need of repairs or replacement, Collins said. “This funding will help Lewiston promote the health and safety of low-income families living in public housing, while also contributing to meaningful economic growth in the city’s downtown area. I am delighted that HUD will make this investment that will benefit residents and accelerate the ongoing revitalization of Lewiston.”

Nearly half of all residents in downtown Lewiston live below the poverty line, and the childhood lead poisoning rate is three times that of the entire state, Collins’ office noted. The HUD grant will allow Lewiston and its community partners to “not only plan the renovation of the downtown district, but also to take initial steps to transform the neighborhood and boost the local economy,” according to the news release.

Last year, the city was awarded $3.4 million in federal funding to address lead hazards in downtown housing.

Community Concepts operates nearly 40 social service programs in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties to support the basic needs of low-income families and to promote self-sufficiency.


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