Housing crisis

Letter to the Editor: Low wages are fueling the affordable housing crisis

I was so happy to read in a recent Press Herald editorial (“How to Fill an Immediate Housing Need in Maine” July 1st) that municipalities are finally starting to come up with creative and helpful ways to solve housing problems in Maine. Recent articles about affordable housing on the rise in the Greater Portland area may have misled us all into thinking that the housing crisis is being solved, and so we may not have to worry about it. But right now, “affordable housing” is defined as being affordable to households earning 60-80% of the region’s median income, or $76,014.

At Maine’s current minimum wage of $12.75 an hour, the annual wage is $26,520, far short of the income needed to pay these “affordable” rents. We need to redefine affordable housing to include minimum wage earners, the people who power our economy and keep supply chains moving. People who work in your favorite local shops, restaurants and businesses are leaving the area because they can no longer afford to rent or buy housing, and as a result businesses are closing or limiting their hours of operation due to of the lack of staff.

If we don’t want to have more signs on company doors that say “closed due to staffing issues,” cities need to look at all the factors that created the housing crisis for workers before this issue completely cripples our workforce.

Robin Elliot
South Portland

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