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Stories of Nonprofit Impact: Green Lofts Produce Jobs, Affordable Homes + More Revenue for City

by Jessica Lantos

MANP recently release the 3rd edition of Partners in Prosperity: The Maine Nonprofit Sector Impact, which showcases the powerful social and economic impact of nonprofits in our state. We’ve been featuring stories from the report here on our blog, and encourage nonprofits, public officials, and community members to download and read the full report for free.

Our seventh featured story of nonprofit impact highlights the work of Avesta Housing.

The Impact

Nonprofit developer Avesta Housing, along with public and private funding partners, including the nonprofit Genesis Community Loan Fund, used the economic development tool of bonding to help complete the Oak Street Lofts in Portland. The Green Affordable Housing Bond, proposed to the State Legislature by the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, was passed in 2009 to accomplish three specific goals:

  1. create jobs in the hard-hit construction sector,
  2. increase the energy efficiency of Maine’s aging housing stock, and
  3. build safe, quality homes that low and moderate income Mainers can afford.

The resulting Oak Street Lofts project is an example of how all three of these goals have been met, while at the same time generating millions of dollars of revenue into the local economy.

The Story Behind the Impact

The development of Oak Street Lofts required 332 construction workers who were paid total salaries of $1.4 million, at a time when Maine’s construction sector was experiencing an unemployment rate of 19.4% – nearly three times the state average. Total local spending on construction was $4.1 million, including $2/3 million in spending for local materials. Economic models estimate that this project also generated $2.2 million in spending at stores in the local economy from the construction phase alone.

The City of Portland was paid $53,000 in municipal fees through the development process, and will annually receive an additional $30,000 in property tax revenue over those received from the surface parking lot that used to occupy the parcel. The construction of the building also generated another $240,000 in state income and sales taxes and other fees.

Oak Street Lofts, now managed by Avesta, has been certified LEED Platinum by the US Green Building Council, becoming the first affordable multifamily building in Maine to achieve this distinction. Annual projected fuel and electricity costs average $400 less per unit, or $14,000 for the building, than the cost of comparable apartments.

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