It is past time for the Maine State Legislature to address the housing distress that our renters in Maine are facing with rising rents and the lack of affordable, safe housing.

Rent relief would go a long way to relieve that distress. Many Mainers are not eligible for existing federal or state assistance programs, and those programs also have years-long waiting lists.

Half of Maine’s low-income workers pay more than half their income to maintain a roof over their family’s head. A one-bedroom apartment costs over $1,000 a month, when a low-wage worker can realistically afford only $700 a month.

As a result, with only one financial emergency, or a large increase in their rent, which has become more  frequent in the present housing market, they risk eviction. That instability in our workforce affects our small businesses in particular, as well as our whole state economy.

Low-income renters need stable, long-term rent relief that they can apply for once a year — not dependent on month-to-month general assistance from towns and cities — and that is uniformly provided no matter where in Maine they live.

Mainers should not have to move away from their home communities to stay safe and housed. Rent relief from the Legislature would meet those needs, as well as provide landlords with funds for improving their apartments.

Our state representatives must move forward on rent relief. We need more housing, and it needs to be safe and truly affordable.

Peg Hoffman, Lewiston

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