Bath Housing Authority was established by order of Bath City Council per the Maine Housing Authorities Act of the Maine Statute: Title 30-A, Chapter 201. A Cooperation Agreement was executed with City of Bath on May 12, 1970. HUD approved the organizational transcript and Cooperation Agreement on April 13, 1971. Organizational records indicated Bath Housing Authority also functioned between October 20, 1943 and June 18, 1968 before “starting again” on January 8, 1969.
1977 – 1979
First Public Housing Built in Bath: In 1977, construction was completed on the Anchorage. Located at 125 Congress Avenue, the property was designed to serve elderly residents. Anchorage has 39 apartments and now serves elderly and disabled residents.
In 1979, construction was completed on the Moorings. Located at 100 Congress Avenue, construction took just four months to complete at a cost of $1.32 million. The property has 40 apartments.
1982 – 1984
Seacliff & Family apartments was completed in 1982. This property includes a 40-unit building with an elevator that serves elderly and disabled residents on Floral Street and 10 scattered site family apartments in the south end of Bath.
Completed in 1984, and thanks to a donation of the historic Dike School from the City of Bath, this project included the renovation of the existing school structure and a new wing, for a total of 16 apartments. At a cost of $1.3 million, this was the last of three public housing projects built in Bath.
Beginning in the mid 1980’s, Bath Housing has focused on community partnerships. The perfect example of this is the collaboration between Bath Housing and the Sagadahoc County Chapter of MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association).
Other long-term partnerships include the Bath Area Family YMCA, Midcoast – Parkview Hospital and CHANS, Morse High School, and the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center.
Community partnerships continued into the next decade and continued to be a central part of the work of Bath Housing. New and valuable partnerships have been formed with:
- CA$H Coalition
- Jobs for Maine Grads (JMG Program)
- Midcoast Maine Community Action
- Mid-Coast Public Transportation
- ArtVan, and
1994 – Present
Joanne Marco served as Bath Housing Authority’s Resident Service Coordinator from 1994 to 2007, when she assumed the position of Executive Director. Joanne was responsible for building the resident service program Bath Housing Authority is known for.
This included the creation of the Nursing/Wellness Center in 1998. Located at the Moorings and funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, this Center was years ahead of its time in making the connection between housing stability and health. The Center was a partnership with Mid-Cost Health Services, St. Joseph’s College, and Winship Green Nursing Center.
Other resident service activities included field trips around the state, cooking classes and cooking projects such as pickling, community meals, and exercise classes.
1984 – 2009
Between 1984 and 2009, Bath Housing (through its affiliate Bath Housing Development Corporation established in 1984), began a new era related to neighborhood revitalization. This included several projects:
- Renovation and sale of 9 homes donated by Bath Iron Works.
- Participation in development of 4 homes with Bath Rotary Club and the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center.
- Revitalization of five multi-family properties on Middle Street
- Creation of a homeownership cooperative with the City of Bath on Oak Street.
Comfortably Home was Launched in October 2015 as a response to the growing desire of people to age in their own homes. Providing home modification services to area homeowners, Comfortably Home has served over 200 homeowners in the mid coast region, resulting in fewer falls, fewer 911 calls, and fewer hospitalizations.
The program has received numerous awards, including NAHRO’s Award of Merit and National Award of Excellence and NERC/NAHRO’s Award of Merit.
MaineHousing is now funding the replication of Comfortably Home in ten different regions of the state. HUD is developing a national replication pilot program, thanks to $10 million included in the FY19 HUD Appropriations bill.
Bath Housing also partners with CHANS to offer the CAPABLE program. CAPABLE, which stands for “Community Aging in place — Advancing Better Living for Elders,” is an evidence-based, four-month, interdisciplinary program designed to increase seniors’ mobility, functional ability and overall capacity to age in place by addressing multiple aspects of their health and well-being.
Working with the City of Bath, Bath Housing Development Corporation used Community Development Block Grant Funds for rehabilitation of multi-family properties throughout Bath. Through allocations in 2015 and 2018, five properties in Bath were rehabilitated with more to come. The organization acquired properties with debt from MaineHousing and used CDBG funds for comprehensive rehabilitation. Properties are located at:
- 28 Maple Street
- 470 Washington Street
- 41-43 Lincoln
- 806 Middle Street
- 49 Elm Street
2015 – 2018
Over the past several years, Bath Housing has received numerous awards and recognition for its work, including:
- Board Chair Katy Powers was recognized by the Bank of Maine with its 2015 Leaders & Luminaries Award.
- Sagadahoc Preservation, Inc. recognized Bath Housing in 2017 for its historic preservation efforts in the redevelopment of 28 Maple Street and 49 Elm Street.
- HUD awarded 22 MainStream Vouchers to Bath Housing Authority in 2018.
- Bath Housing Development Corporation received the United Way Community Builder Award in 2016.
- Executive Director Debora Keller received the 2016 Stephen B. Mooers Award from MaineHousing for her work developing the program.
In May 2019. Bath Housing Development Corporation acquired several key downtown parcels located on Front Street in Bath, Maine, known as the Moses and Columbia Blocks. As stewards of these properties, Bath Housing has several short-term goals, including:
- Preserve the ten existing rental apartments as modestly priced housing in the heart of Bath.
- Maintain the ground level retail spaces with existing tenants as a vital part of Front Street in downtown Bath.
- Maximize the parking lot to help relieve parking pressure in downtown Bath.
- Conduct an initial round of improvements designed to make the building safer and healthier, while honoring the historic character of the buildings.
Bath Housing is exploring long-term options for the property with the goal of historic renovation, addition of more residential apartments, and transitioning existing vacant spaces into occupied spaces to enliven the block and downtown.
Effective August 1, 2021, Bath Housing Authority transitioned its public housing portfolio to Bath Housing Development Corporation (BHDC). The transition converted all 97 apartments at the Anchorage, Dike’s Landing, and the Moorings from the one-size-fits-all Low Income Public Housing program to a less cumbersome and more flexible Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) subsidy program. This provided more flexibility for residents and allowed Bath Housing Development Corporation – as the new owner – to pursue new avenues of funding for much needed asset improvements.
The organization had explored options for conversion since 2018. The portfolio included a series of challenges, such as age, obsolete design, and substantial underfunding by HUD of deferred physical maintenance needs. BHA was not alone among Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in its effort to improve options for both renters and the organization; HUD has directly encouraged PHAs across the country to consider portfolio repositioning options.