AUGUSTA – Augusta-area landlords are responding to calls to place their apartment vacancies on the free rental-listing website www.mainehousingsearch.org, after a disaster intervention team for the site began contacting them to help out people displaced by the Northern Avenue first last Friday, December 5. Thirty-eight vacant or soon-to-be-available units have been added since then.
MaineHousing and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services partner on this site, which is hosted by Socialserve.com, a national not-for-profit provider of housing locator services.
It is the Socialserve.com’s Disaster Intervention Team that is reaching out to landlords. Since Friday, 120 landlords have been contacted, adding 38 vacancies in the Augusta area to the rental-listing site.
Recent fires in Augusta, Portland, Biddeford and other parts of the state highlight the need for a place where displaced tenants can connect with landlords of rental housing – and www.mainehousingsearch.org is the easy-to-use online location. MaineHousing, DHHS, and other services providers also attend housing fairs, such as the one conducted Monday, December 8, in Augusta, and include this web address in the resource information handed out to attendees.
The 2013 arson fires in Lewiston demonstrated the value of this free, online rental-housing website. Landlords throughout the state quickly responded to a similar call to post available listings, and prospective tenants were easily able to search for new homes. The number of apartment listings more than doubled in a matter of a couple of days after the fires because of calls made by Socialserve.com’s Disaster Intervention Team and other efforts.
“People and families that lost their homes because of fire have so many worries, the greatest of which is finding a new place to live,” said MaineHousing Director John Gallagher. “Landlords can help make their search easier by using www.mainehousingsearch.org to list for free their available rentals.”
“MaineHousingSearch.org was established in Maine to ensure that residents can find housing when they need it, where they need it,” said Sheila Roberts, director of government affairs for Socialserve.com. “MaineHousing and SocialServe.com representatives are working hard to ensure that a range of rental-housing opportunities are listed on this free-to-use service.”
The site is available as a tool to connect landlords with prospective tenants at any time, not just in times of tragedy. It was launched in 2009 by MaineHousing and DHHS to provide a one-stop, easy-to-use source to share and search for rental properties statewide. Market rentals, subsidized housing, and special needs housing are included.
Landlords can post and update their listings for free at any time, and generally receive more qualified inquiries. Renters can search anonymously and at no cost for an apartment suitable to their needs.
Apartment-listing features include rent, location, handicap accessibility, distance to work and local services, and security. It’s also a good place to search for a healthy home. The registry added a smoke-free housing search option in 2011 with support from the Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine, and a lead-free search option in 2013 in conjunction with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund, managed by the Maine Center for Disease Control.
Prospective tenants can search for housing online of call toll free for live assistance. Many service providers, housing resource agencies, and libraries have computers for people to use.
For more information about MaineHousingSearch.org, including help on how to post a property or search for one, visit www.MaineHousingsearch.org or call Socialserve.com toll-free at 1-877-428-8844 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.