As real estate market cools, MaineHousing programs face steep cuts

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State housing officials warn that a slowing real estate market and legislative requirements could diminish revenues for shelters and other housing initiatives.

The Housing Opportunities for Maine fund relies on the state’s real estate transfer tax to fund shelter, rental and homeownership programs.

MaineHousing spent more than $26 million from the fund last year. But the agency’s Erik Jorgenson says that the decline in home sales this year has resulted in significantly less revenue.

In addition, a recent requirement that 25% of the fund be spent on new housing development could threaten allocations for other programming, including assistance for shelters.

“All the other things that this fund provides for — emergency home repairs, lead remediation, first-time homebuyers assistance — all these things are pretty critical. So there’s no good place to cut from this fund,” he says.

Jorgenson says the agency is hoping that the Legislature will address the issue in the upcoming session that begins next month.

“I think this problem has erupted to a point where we’ve really got to think about what levers might we have that we could pull to improve the situation in the fund,” he says.

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