Ashley Sabine

For as long as I can remember, my mother’s dream has been to own a house, a place that her children could come back to, a home.

She’s now 49 years old, and I have yet to see her accomplish that dream.

When I was growing up, we moved a lot and sometimes didn’t have stable housing. That negatively affected everyone in my family — the adults experienced the anxiety and stress of not knowing how to shelter their children, and we children felt hopeless with no power over our situation.

As an adult, it has been important to me to have stable housing, and I did everything you’re supposed to do. I got my first job at 16 and haven’t stopped working since. I am a first-generation high school graduate who put myself through college, got a bachelor’s degree, and joined the workforce. But it wasn’t enough.

The owners of my building recently gave me a 45-day notice that my rent would be going from $850 a month to $1,250. On my income, I can’t afford that huge increase. But there are no laws or regulations in place to protect renters like me, and because I work full-time and have no dependents, I do not qualify for assistance programs or low-income housing.

No matter where we’re from or where we live, having a safe, stable place to come home to is the foundation for our well-being and mental health; it’s where we celebrate our good times and recover from the rest. That’s what my mom has been working for all these years, and it’s what we all deserve.


But that’s not how it is for thousands of Mainers. Across Maine, rich landlords are hiking up rents and putting families on the street. They believe they should be able to do what they want with their property, and their profits are more important than ensuring everyone has a home.

In most parts of the state there aren’t any laws in place to protect tenants or help them to afford rent costs that have risen much faster than wages. Eviction rates increased by more than 16% from 2022 to 2023, according to Maine court records. Housing costs have skyrocketed. And more and more people have no place to go. According to Maine’s annual Point in Time Count, the number of unhoused people more than tripled between 2020 and 2023.

I work as a case manager in a transitional living program, helping teens and young adults experiencing homelessness to get the skills and resources they need to become independent and financially stable. But what am I supposed to tell my clients when it’s so hard for everyone, including me, to find housing?

As a 34-year-old adult with a degree and a job, I am now in a position where I’m considering moving in with my mother. And I am lucky to have that option.

This isn’t how it should be. And it isn’t how it has to be. Right now, housing advocates in the Legislature are working to ensure that renters have a voice — and protections — in Maine’s out-of-control real estate market.

When renters and those who support the right to housing join together to fight for tenants, we can ensure that everyone has a place to call home. There’s a lot to do, and there are a few steps we can take right now, in this legislative session, to start accomplishing this. Legislators in this session must pass meaningful rental assistance for people struggling to afford their homes, and we must pass meaningful tenant protections from discrimination and predatory fees.

It is way past time for action, and while they will not fix our state’s housing crisis, these steps will bring relief to so many. So again, I ask legislators, and the majority of us who believe that everyone should have a place to call home, to act. Together we can ensure everyone, regardless of zip code, has a place to live our lives and care for our families.

Ashley Sabine of Oxford recently faced rental payment increases that forced her to move out of her Lewiston apartment. She grew up in Oxford County and works full-time out of Lewiston as a case manager for homeless youth. 

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