Over 500 people gathered at the Augusta Civic Center on Tuesday for MaineHousing’s 2019 Affordable Housing Conference. The conference marked the culmination of the agency’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The conference theme, Shaping Our Housing Future, created a solutions-based framework for the day where the importance of safe, affordable homes for all Mainers wasn’t discussed as an unsolvable crisis – but instead, a challenge to be met with innovation, perseverance and hope.
“The number of people here today speaks volumes about the importance of making sure all Mainers have safe homes they can afford,” said MaineHousing Director Daniel Brennan. “We’re excited about the possibilities and are looking ahead to the future – the future of our state, the future of our affordable housing needs, and the new and innovative ways we’ll need to think and act to meet those needs.”
“Rural housing is an issue in a number of states like Maine. For decades, we’ve underinvested in rural housing. We need to elevate rural needs in the broader national affordable housing conversation,” noted Stockton Williams, Executive Director of the National Council for State Housing Agencies, as he addressed the crowd. He spoke on a panel which included State Senators Shenna Bellows and Matt Pouliot and State Representative Mike Sylvester.
Keynotes included Jessica Bruder, a journalist and author who wrote Nomadland, a book about Americans who forgo traditional retirement either out of choice or necessity to travel from job to job. The Maine Cabin Masters finished up the day talking about what they do with a small budget – and how they involve the local community in their work.
Brennan concluded the day thanking MaineHousing’s partners and conference attendees: “Housing is central to every Mainer’s life. We’re grateful for the work many people do on this issue every day.”