Community Housing of Maine (CHOM) recently celebrated the opening of their 68th property in Maine,the historic renovationof Elm Terrace in walkable downtown Portland. Elm Terrace is home to 38 units of affordable workforce and family housing. Rents are set so that they will be affordable to people in the local workforce in many sectors including retail and sales, social services, nursing and healthcare, education, public services such as police, fire, and public works and a wide variety of other occupations.
Embedded within the housing is a social service program with wrap-around, in-house, services for 15 very vulnerable people (and their families) in recovery from significant substance abuse patterns. Those patterns left residents homeless, isolated and often with children in state custody. Participants enter the program directly from these conditions and commit to sobriety in exchange for fully furnished apartments, and the array of supports. Along with support comes accountability, and the combination has lead consistently to stability in housing, reunification with children, ongoing sobriety, development of healthy self-esteems and a rapidly growing permanent support network.
Elm Terrace was originally built in 1801 as a mansion, and an el was built in 1909 to create Children’s Hospital. The el was later converted into the University of Maine’s law school and then various University programs occupied the site. In 1960 the original mansion was demolished leaving the el that was restored through this project. As completed in 2013, a new structure took the place of the original mansion and the Children’s Hospital was historically preserved as this entire site was converted to housing. CHOM’s rehabilitation and construction work at Elm Terrace created 399 well-paying jobs in industries hard hit during the recent recession. In addition, the development has been certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) at the Platinum LEED level, the highest level of achievement. Elm Terrace is the first affordable multifamily historic preservation project in Maine to attain LEED Platinum.
Elm Terrace leveraged HUD HOME Investment Partnership Program funds from the city of Portland with Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Federal and State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits and city of Portland HOME funds to complete the $10.5 million dollar project on-time and on-budget.
Christine Talcott Roberts is a Senior Management Analyst in the Office of Field Policy and Management, HUD’s Bangor, Maine Field Office.