Much-needed affordable housing for seniors has opened in the rural community of Gorham, Maine, in the southern part of the state.
Ridgewood at Village Square, developed by Portland, Maine–based Avesta Housing, provides 24 one- and two-bedroom apartments targeted to senior households at or below 60% of the area median income. This project enhances the developer’s senior housing campus in Gorham, which already includes a 37-bed assisted-living facility, a 48-unit senior housing development, and a 20-unit senior housing development.
“Maine has the oldest population in the country. We estimate that there are currently about 10,000 seniors on various affordable housing wait lists in the state,” says Dana Totman, president and CEO of Avesta Housing. “This is a very small piece to start to address that need, but we’re very actively advocating for more resources for more housing for our seniors.”
Residents can benefit from a telehealth program through a partnership between Avesta and MaineHealth, the largest health-care and hospital system in the state. Residents can connect with nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals via computer, and MaineHealth will send out health-care staff several times each month to meet with the senior households on site.
“It’s a groundbreaking technology and approach to delivering health care,” says Totman.
The developer has also engaged students from the adjacent University of Southern Maine, who volunteer at the senior campus to work with the residents and learn more about social work and geriatrics.
Ridgewood at Village Square also saves residents even more money with its sustainable features. The 220 solar panels on the roof generate about half of the energy that is consumed at the development. Completed in August, it has received LEED Platinum, Enterprise Green Communities, and Energy Star certifications.
The $5.1 million development was financed through 4% low-income housing tax credits allocated by MaineHousing and equity provided by Northern New England Housing Investment Fund, Maine Green Affordable Housing Bonds, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Sec. 515 program. MaineHousing also provided an interest-only loan.
The project was designed by Scarborough-based Gawron Turgeon Architects and built by locally based Great Falls Construction. In addition, the rooftop solar panels were installed by GreenSun of Gorham.
Avesta will continue to make a dent in serving this demographic. It has three other senior housing developments funded with 9% LIHTCs under construction. “We are continuing to develop senior housing as quickly and rapidly as we can. The need simply outpaces our ability to create new units,” adds Totman.