Bath, Maine – Bath Housing Authority (BHA) is pleased to announce that, effective August 1, 2021, it has transitioned its public housing portfolio to Bath Housing Development Corporation (BHDC).
The transition converts 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 provides more flexibility for residents and allows Bath Housing Development Corporation – as the new owner – to pursue new avenues of funding for much needed asset improvements.
“Bath Housing offers an array of vital services and housing options to seniors, individuals with disabilities, and low-income families,” said Senator Collins. “This transition to a voucher funding model is a win-win by allowing Bath Housing to continue to provide safe and affordable housing options while giving residents more flexibility to move if they wish. As the Ranking Member of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to work to improve the availability and quality of affordable housing in Maine.”
The properties will continue to serve the same residents with equal levels of affordability, but with more flexibility. Residents can now take their housing subsidy vouchers with them should they choose to move as their housing needs change. This flexibility comes because the conversion shifts funding from Section 9 of the 1937 Housing Act to Section 8 of the same act – different sections of the Act, different appropriation processes, and different regulations, but maintaining the same level of affordability.
In addition to new flexibility, residents and the community will see immediate benefits in the form of enhanced resident services, immediate capital improvements such as upgrades to egress, landscaping, and HVAC systems, and additional long-term improvements to things like boilers, walkways and parking lots. “Through this transition, these properties will enjoy a more stable subsidy stream to continue providing needed rental assistance for the families living in the 97 public housing units in the portfolio,” said Robert Cwieka, Director, Boston Regional Office of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The organization has been exploring 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 is 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. ““HUD congratulates the Board of Commissioners on its continued commitment to the families in Bath, Maine,” said Cwieka.
The three-year process included ample resident consultation and communication – and residents have been pleased with the effort. Resident and Bath Housing Authority Commissioner Marsha Knowles said, “It seems clear to me and other residents of The Moorings that this is a really good decision on the part of Bath Housing. It makes sense to do this for both stability and better care of the residents. We are looking forward to all the positive changes to our home.”
“The Board members of BHDC and the BHA Commissioners enthusiastically applaud the hard work of the staff that has made it possible for BHA to take advantage of this innovative HUD offering,” said Catherine Powers, Chair of BHA Board of Commissioners. “To be one of only three such conversions done to date by housing authorities in New England speaks well of Executive Director Debora Keller’s farsightedness and efforts on the part of securing safe and secure affordable housing for our area residents,” added Mary Terry, Chair of BHDC Board of Directors.
Bath Housing works to enhance housing stability in the greater Bath area and believes stable housing is at the core of health and wellness and that housing plays a significant role in a vibrant community. For more information, contact Bath Housing, 80 Congress Avenue, Bath, ME 04530, 207-443-3116, or via the website at bathhousing.org.