The Waterville Tenants’ Association was initially formed in December 2022, and they recently had their first meeting to begin addressing housing issues.
The meeting comes before the city’s planning board is scheduled to vote on a new housing proposal. This $35 million proposal from Renewal Housing LLC includes building 63 housing units in downtown Waterville. These units are meant to be affordable for mixed-income communities.
More initiatives to create additional housing in Waterville have taken place. Manor Gardens LLC is in the process of constructing 20 housing units on College Avenue. These units will be in the style of townhouses and duplex apartments. A portion of these units will be reserved for affordable housing. Monthly prices are currently projected to be around $1300 for a two-bedroom and around $1000 for a one-bedroom. These prices do not reflect those of the affordable housing portion.
Waterville, much like most parts of Maine, is facing a housing crisis with rising rent costs. News Center Maine reported that the state has incurred a 39 percent increase in rent since March 2020. Maine’s crisis comes along with a large influx of people into the state. Maine has the seventh highest in-migration rate in the country, putting it in the ranks of states like Florida and Arizona.
With so many new arrivals looking for places to stay, the housing market surged in price. This phenomenon has especially hurt low-income Maine residents who can no longer afford their homes. In a 2022 report from the Maine State Housing Authority, the results show that “The average house price in Maine is unaffordable to the average income household in all Maine
counties except for Aroostook.”
In Waterville, 65 percent of people rent their houses in comparison to the state average of 27 percent. The Waterville Tenants’ Association aims to include these renters in important conversations about renter’s rights, legal resources, and the future of housing policies.
Besides the housing shortage, Waterville renters also face unsatisfactory living conditions. The association hopes to connect residents to resources and support so landlords can better address maintenance concerns.
In an interview with the Sun Journal, Zach Campbell, a member of the association said, “Tenants have less and less options. We have an ever-growing class of tenants who can’t make it work with exploding rents.”
The lack of housing options and unsafe living conditions have created the need for the Waterville Tenants’ Association which will hopefully lead to positive change.
~ Vivian Nguyen `25