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Thrive2027 News: Mainers Need Affordable Housing to Thrive

It’s no secret that our community has an affordable housing shortage. The cost of a house in Maine was 25% higher in April 2022 than in April 2021. Rents are also rising. Right now, 25,470 households in Southern Maine spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs (rent, home loans, taxes, insurance, homeowners’ association fees, and utilities).

These households are considered “cost-burdened.” When you spend more than 30% of your income on housing, you may not be able to afford medicine, health care, healthy food, or save for unexpected expenses or retirement. Thrive2027’s Goal 2 is that 70% of households in Southern Maine will spend less than 30% of their income on housing by 2027.

Explore the data and learn what is being done to help more people thrive—not just survive.


Data Dive: Who is paying more than 30% of their income on housing?

Let’s start with the good news. Looking at all households, it seems things are going well, and we are achieving Goal 2. In 2020, only 30% of households in Southern Maine paid more than 30% of their income on housing. But there’s not-so-good news. When you dig into the data, the story becomes more complicated.

When we look at homeowners and renters separately, it becomes clear that homeowners are doing well, but renters are struggling. In 2020, the last year that data was available, 46% of renters in Southern Maine were paying more than 30% of their income on housing. Since 2020, rents have only continued to rise, which means more work must be done to ensure renters are more financially stable.

Here are two ways Thrive2027 partners are advancing Goal 2:

Developing the Workforce

Greater Portland Workforce Initiative (GPWI), supported by United Way of Southern Maine (UWSM), helps more people prepare for and connect to skilled employment to increase their salaries and savings. Their Bridge to CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and Bridge to CDA (Child Development Associate) programs provide participants with supportive services as they pursue professional certificates or credentials.

Hear how Mangasa and Kawaya participated in GPWI’s Bridge programs and are now pursuing fulfilling career paths.

Addressing Homelessness

Across the country, communities are proving that homelessness is solvable. Built for Zero is a movement to reach “functional zero”, a measurable end state where homelessness is rare and brief. In 2021, Maine joined Built for Zero, and this year, MaineHousing launched a statewide strategy to redesign our approach to addressing homelessness. Maine is only the second state in the country to introduce the Built for Zero model statewide and the first in the country to invest in staff resources to support this work – providing the capacity needed to make meaningful progress.

The statewide strategy includes the creation of nine “hubs” to align services for Mainers experiencing homelessness. UWSM is hosting two Homeless Services Hub Coordinators, serving Cumberland County and the Mid Coast region. The coordinators are responsible for tracking and coordinating system-wide efforts to reduce homelessness across the entire hub, ensuring the entire system of services is working effectively and efficiently. In addition, partners will utilize real-time data to support those experiencing homelessness and respond to emerging trends. Read about the statewide strategy

This year, UWSM and partner organizations received more than $2.8 million to support individuals and families temporarily housed in hotels throughout Cumberland County due to COVID-19 protocols and lack of shelter and housing space. These funds will provide critical resources to provide services and support, including City of Portland staff at hotel locations, transportation, and translation services. Read more

Dig Deeper on Thrive2027
Thrive2027 partners advocate for bills supporting the annual public policy agenda approved by the Thrive2027 Council. With your help, some major victories were achieved for our community during the Second Regular Session of the 130th Maine Legislature.

Read the 2022 Thrive2027 Advocacy Report Card to see what has been accomplished.

Building Thriving Workplaces: Working Parents, Stronger Communities Webinar
Hear local leaders in the fields of business and child care share their perspectives on the child care crisis and discuss solutions to this issue. The Building Thriving Workplaces webinar series is presented in partnership with the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce and UWSM. 

Endorse Thrive2027
Help drive change and join the more than 300 organizations engaged with Thrive2027. The first step is simple: declare your support of our community’s vision by endorsing Thrive2027

You can contribute to Thrive2027 via United Way of Southern Maine. By designating your gift to the Economic Stability Fund, you will support programs and collaboratives, like CA$H and Greater Portland Workforce Initiative, that help people build wealth through education, job training, stable housing, and financial education. Give


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