The Sanford Housing Authority (SHA) has big plans for the future to better serve the community, including transitioning from public housing to a voucher system, and building a new senior housing complex. SHA Director Diane Gerry, members of her staff, and Board of Directors President Kim LaChance made their annual report to the Sanford City Council on September 20, 2022 to talk about the agency and explain its work.
Ms. LaChance provided an overview and introduced the other Board members, Mike Jean, Glenn Dowey, Rebecca Ames, Pamela Buck, Arlene Townsend and George Little. She described SHA’s basic function as an organization that provides safe, clean, affordable housing, which is run like a business. She said the Board and staff are working on a plan to take SHA through the next 50 years, with a goal of higher efficiencies and support for the people who live in SHA properties.
Ms. LaChance introduced Julie Macomber, Housing Director, and Randy Levangie, Maintenance and IT Director, who detailed the different types of housing assistance SHA provides.
- Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV): The agency receives over $3.8 million a year from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to fund 593 housing vouchers (also known as Section 8), and distributes more than $320,000 a month to landlords and building owners in Sanford and surrounding communities in housing assistance payments. These are for privately-owned apartments, single family homes and mobile homes.
- Public Housing (partially funded by HUD): The SHA’s public housing properties are Sunset Tower (72 Units and East Side Acres (49 units). Residents pay 30% of their income in rent. These properties will be transitioned over the next year to the HCV program. No tenants will be displaced, but the vouchers will enable them to move anywhere in the country that vouchers are accepted.
- Project Based Rental Assistance: Village View in Springvale is comprised of 40 one- and two-bedroom apartments for seniors 62+. Funding for this program also comes from HUD.
- Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: The SHA’s two LIHTC properties are The Maples, which has 26 units for residents 55+, and Mayflower Place, a 35-unit assisted living facility which is owned by SHA but has services provided by North Country Associates. As the name suggests, funding for these properties comes to SHA through federal tax credits.
- Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP): The SHA also uses federal funds to purchase homes that are in foreclosure, and renovate or rebuild them. Sometimes these properties are resold to refund the program, while others are kept in the SHA’s portfolio and rented. Recently, SHA partnered with the City of Sanford through collaboration with the Land Bank to construct a home at 13 State St., which was sold to a local individual.
Mr. Levangie said SHA is paying over $177,000 in property taxes to the City this year, an increase of more than $25,000 over 2021.
SHA has a Landlord Incentive Program to encourage current and new landlords to become voucher participants. Each new landlord gets $750 as a thank you. They can also apply for help with security deposits, repairs to meet quality standards, and unit turnover assistance. A landlord association meets at the SHA office once a month.
The current waiting list for tenants to get housing is three to five years. A point system enables those who meet certain criteria (not currently subsidized, veterans, seniors, disabled, working or in school) to get higher placement on the waiting list. Applicants undergo credit and criminal background checks. The HCV program currently serves 832 people, including 199 children. 30% of voucher tenants are elderly and 63% are disabled.
All properties funded by HUD must meet Housing Quality Standards through an annual inspection process. A property can fail for items including missing smoke and CO detectors, leaking faucets, cracked windows and more. Mr. Levangie said SHA recently scored 95 out of 100 on the inspection of its public housing properties. Maintenance projects in the past year including repaving of the Village View and Sunset Tower parking lots, renovating the elevators at Sunset Tower and adding more washers and dryers.
SHA’s additional goals for the future including constructing a new 35 to 40 unit senior housing complex, which will be a LIHTC property similar to The Maples.
Ms. Gerry concluded by talking about how SHA recognizes people who graduate from needing housing assistance. “We are glad to be here when they need us, and glad to have them leave when they are ready,” she said.