Like most of the country, our region suffers from a severe lack of housing. With the median home price in Knox County now exceeding $400,000, as many as 25 percent of qualified candidates turn down job offers because they can’t find adequate and affordable housing. Yet data from the Maine Department of Labor suggests that employers in Knox, Waldo, and Lincoln Counties will need about 800 additional hires by 2028.
Our region faces significant needs for workers in public service, skilled trades, education, health care, and other fields. But where will teachers, nurses, first responders, tradespeople, and other middle-income workers live? We are partnering with municipalities, developers, employers, and concerned citizens to provide reasonably priced year-round housing so that workers can live within a reasonable commuting distance of their jobs.
According to the federal government, affordable housing is accommodation (including rent or mortgage, utilities, taxes, and maintenance) that costs no more than 30 percent of household income. But the latest census numbers tell us that the annual area median income (AMI) for a family of four in Knox County is $72,000. AMI is the halfway point between the highest and lowest reported incomes.
We must provide new housing at reasonable prices to ensure our communities include people who provide much-needed services. These workers, who may have a household income of up to $86,400 per year, need sustainable, inclusive neighborhoods within reach of their jobs. MCRHT will work to create effective public-private partnerships to achieve that goal. We invite our entire community – including major employers, town governments, real estate professionals, and financial institutions – to join us in this effort.
This chart shows that households earning less than $72,000 cannot afford to buy or rent a home here (at the current monthly market rate of $1,800 for a two-bedroom unit).