AUBURN — The city will roll out a grant program aimed at encouraging homeowners to add rental housing units to their property in an effort to solve the housing shortage.

A $250,000 grant from MaineHousing will be combined with $225,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act and is expected to help create at least 15 new residential units.

According to a news release Friday, the accessory dwelling units, no larger than 800 square feet, will be “offered at affordable rates to low-to-moderate income residents.”

Officials said the program adds to Auburn’s “ongoing and comprehensive efforts in responding to the shortage of affordable housing units in Auburn and Maine.” The city has also recently established an ad hoc committee to create permit-ready housing plans, which will likely include plans for accessory dwelling units.

“Solving the current housing crisis is an all-hands-on-deck situation,” Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque said. “This program effectively puts another tool in the hands of Auburn residents. One they can use to not only help the greater housing effort, but also to put much-needed passive rental income in their pockets.”

The news release states that the program will provide incentives to qualified residents for up to 15% of actual construction costs, with a maximum of $30,000 per new unit constructed. An application system will be rolled out soon, Levesque said.


MaineHousing Director Daniel Brennan said Auburn’s proposal was directly in line with the purpose of the the housing authority’s Community Solutions grant program.

“It’s also particularly encouraging to see Auburn putting some of its federal pandemic relief funding towards housing,” he said. “To build the housing inventory we need in Maine we need to see more municipalities stepping up the way Auburn is by putting their focus and financial resources towards adding safe, warm and affordable housing units for their citizens.”

Reached Friday, Levesque said the units will come with a five-year “affordable rental guarantee,” meaning that at the time of renting, the city will verify the income level of the renter falls in the low-to-moderate range.

He said nationwide, data shows that accessory dwelling units attract a “broad range of individuals,” including students, entry level workers and retirees. Many are also considered “in-law” dwellings for family members. He said he’s hoping the program will show local residents that such units “can fit well in neighborhoods.”

Last year, Auburn was among the first municipalities to allow accessory dwelling units in all residential zones, a move that will become statewide next year when LD 2003 takes effect in July. This year, the city has conducted a sometimes-controversial effort to rezone residential neighborhoods to allow a broader range of housing types.

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