BANGOR – Earlier this year, a work group found Bangor to be one of the least affordable places to live in Maine, but the city is making an effort to fix the problem.
On Monday night, city councilors took eight properties into city possession.
While there’s a housing shortage, many properties are sitting vacant and condemned.
“We are really working to address a number of issues that will hopefully all move the needle incrementally on affordable housing,” said Tanya Emery, Bangor’s director of community and economic development. “Because no one recommendation is really going to solve all the problems. We have to work on it in a multi-faceted approach.”
The work group held earlier this year found that there’s a greater need for single bedroom apartments since fewer people are seeking family homes.
A way they’re looking to keep track of what’s available and the condition of the units is by creating a rental registry.
“We really want to make it the right types of housing so that people aren’t saying, ‘Well jeeze! I can’t find an affordable one-bedroom anywhere in Bangor, I’m going to have to look outside of the community,'” Emery said. “We want to make sure we have housing that matches the needs of the people that live in the city.”
One major obstacle with turning the vacant properties into housing is the amount of work some require, which makes the properties undesirable to bidders.
“We have to wait for someone to purchase them,” Laura Supica, a Bangor city councilor said. “We put them up to bid at a significantly lower price.”
Until someone bids on the property, they sit vacant, creating safety hazards around the city.
“A lot of the police calls for overdoses, if you were to map that out, and overlay that onto some of the oldest properties that are in more code violations, there’s a correlation between that,” Supica said. “What we’re seeing is that there’s a correlation between the quality of your housing and the quality of your life.”
A full list of properties available to be bid on is on the city’s website.