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August 5, 2021

Bath Housing portfolio transfer expected to facilitate new funding

building with cars Courtesy / Bath Housing Development Corp.  Dike’s Landing, with apartments for 18 elderly or disabled individuals, was one of three properties transferred from Bath Housing Authority to Bath Housing Development Corp. on Aug. 1.

The transfer of a 97-apartment portfolio in Bath from one public housing entity to another is expected to provide more flexibility for residents and facilitate new funding opportunities.

Bath Housing Authority transitioned its public housing portfolio to Bath Housing Development Corp. on Aug. 1, according to a news release.

The transition converts all 97 apartments at three public housing complexes — Anchorage, Dike’s Landing, and Moorings — from the low-income public housing program to a housing choice voucher subsidy program.

The latter is considered less cumbersome and more flexible for residents, who are elderly or disabled.

  • Anchorage, at 100 Congress Ave., has 39 apartments.
  • Moorings, at 125 Congress Ave., has 40 apartments.
  • Dike’s Landing, at 20 Dike’s Landing Road, has 18 apartments.

The transition also allows Bath Housing Development Corp.,  as the new owner, to pursue new avenues of funding for much-needed asset improvements.

Immediate benefits are expected to be in the form of enhanced resident services and capital improvements such as upgrades to egress, landscaping and HVAC systems. Long-term improvements are planned for 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 of the Boston Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Housing flexibility

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.  The flexibility comes because the conversion shifts funding from Section 9 of the 1937 Housing Act to Section 8 of the same act. Although they’re different sections of the act with different appropriation processes and different regulations, the section maintains the same level of affordability. 

map with shaded area
Courtesy / Bath Housing Development Corp. 
Bath Housing Development Corp.’s service area covers Bath and five surrounding towns.

Bath Housing Authority has been exploring options for conversion since 2018. The portfolio included challenges such as age, obsolete design and substantial underfunding by HUD of deferred physical maintenance needs. HUD has encouraged public housing authorities across the country to consider portfolio repositioning options.  

The three-year transition included resident consultation and communication. 

“It makes sense to do this for both stability and better care of the residents,” said Bath Housing Authority Commissioner Marsha Knowles, who is a resident herself.

An analysis commissioned by Bath Housing Development Corp. in 2020 revealed that housing needs in Bath have outpaced solutions.  

Over 1,750 households struggled to pay for housing in 2019. 

The corporation helps with housing solutions for those living in Bath and five surrounding towns. 

In 2018, Bath's housing shortage resulted in bidding war. Bath Housing Development Corp. sought to buy a century-old multifamily house to add to its portfolio of affordable homes. Ultimately, the corporation nailed the deal by paying $26,000 above the asking price of $299,000.

Two years later, the nonprofit had a creative solution to filling a tiny site it owned with an affordable home, when it bought a modular home built by students in the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center carpentry program. 

Other affordable housing projects on tap in the Sagadahoc County “city of ships” include Szanton Co.’s 50-apartment project on the site of the former YMCA in downtown Bath, expected to open in February 2023.

The project received approval of an affordable housing tax credit allocation from MaineHousing, which allows Szanton to reserve roughly 70% of the units for those earning $25,000 to $38,000 a year, with rents ranging from $690 to $890 for a one-bedroom unit. 

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