Gov. LePage and Republican allies say they will never allow senior housing

Gov. LePage and Republican allies say they will never allow senior housing

During a town hall meeting in Orono on Wednesday night, Governor Paul LePage declared that he will continue to defy the will of voters and block a bond approved at referendum last year that would provide affordable housing for Maine seniors. LePage said obstruction of the bond would continue throughout the remainder of his term in office.

“We urge the Governor to reconsider his position,” said Lori Parham, Maine State Director for AARP. “The Housing Bond was a bipartisan measure with overwhelming support first from the legislature and then from Maine voters on Election Day. Contractors and builders are ready to start construction of these homes which represent only a fraction of those that are needed. Maine cannot afford to wait any longer.”

LePage claimed, in response to a question posed by Orono Representative Ryan Tipping-Spitz, that “the problem with the bond is that it was designed in a rush and until it is fixed or the next Governor comes in, I can’t do anything with them.”

But according to AARP Maine, that’s a false argument. They note that the Housing Bond dollars are to be specifically allocated and the bond is designed to enable more Mainers to age in place by building new, affordable homes for older Mainers and dedicating funds to home repair and weatherization of existing homes, some of the oldest in the country.  Right now, 37 percent of those aged 80 and over in Maine pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing.

“In addition to ignoring a bipartisan effort in the statehouse and a clear ‘yes’ from voters, the governor has shown clearly he’s determined to neglect our seniors,” said Democratic Speaker of the House Mark Eves. “It’s extremely disappointing, but I will keep fighting to make sure our seniors can live safely and independently in their communities.”

Republicans in the legislature have joined LePage in blocking the bond. While the House passed a joint order sponsored by Speaker Eves requiring the governor to act (on an 80-63, mostly party-line vote), the Republican-controlled Senate voted the measure down, allowing LePage to continue to obstruct the affordable housing projects for seniors.

Photo: Activists with AARP recently visited the State House to urge Gov. LePage to reconsider his position on the senior housing bond.

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