Words cannot begin to express the horror we felt seeing the images from Minneapolis, seeing yet another Black man killed at the hands of the police. We cannot fathom why, in the United States, in 2020, George Floyd was needlessly murdered, or why Ahmaud Arbery would be killed while jogging, or why Breonna Taylor would be killed in her home. We cannot properly express the rage at the fact that this list could go on and on.
Racism and discrimination are all too prevalent in the current moment. Although here in Maine we are many miles away from Minneapolis where Mr. Floyd died, the Georgia town where Mr. Arbery was killed, or Ms. Taylor’s Louisville home, we know that our communities perpetuate racism and discrimination too.
As a result, we have a responsibility to speak out against hatred and discrimination. We condemn, as harshly as we can, the pervasive and systematic racism that lead to the deaths of these individuals and each and every person of color. As a housing provider, we try to put our words into action. We provide housing to people from all walks of life, people from all backgrounds, people of all colors. We are committed to building strong, diverse communities. We will not tolerate racism, discrimination, and hatred.
As a Public Housing Agency, we are keenly aware that housing and thriving communities are platforms that help families succeed. We are committed to providing housing to everyone, without regard to race, color, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, national origin or familial status. And we take seriously our responsibility to provide homes to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. But that is not enough.
We commit, at minimum, to the following action items:
1. We commit to facilitating economic and social mobility for all while ensuring that current residents in our community are not displaced.
2. We will engage within our communities, have hard conversations, and support federal, state and local policy changes that eliminate racism in our institutions.
3. We will examine our internal policies and procedures, and update as necessary, to ensure they are inclusionary and eliminate barriers to opportunity.
The Housing Authority of the City of Old Town was founded in 1970 with a five-member board of commissioners. Today, the Housing Authority has a seven-member board of commissioners including two resident commissioners. Its mission then and now is to provide safe and sanitary housing opportunities to low-income people in the community.
With a staff of 15 full and part-time employees, the Housing Authority oversees 204 federally subsidized apartments plus 209 Vouchers for the federally subsidized Housing Choice Voucher Program. In addition, the Housing Authority administers the Congregate Housing Services Program as well as a Family Self-Sufficiency Program and a Homeownership Option Program for Housing Choice Voucher Program participants. Its goal continues to be to retain these traditional services and to find ways to provide new services and housing opportunities to the community.
In its management of family and elderly housing, it is the policy of the Housing Authority to determine and establish eligibility and rent requirements in order to provide improved living conditions for very low and low-income families. This is accomplished by keeping rent payments at an affordable level and by providing opportunities for upward mobility of families who desire to achieve self-sufficiency.
The Housing Authority is service-directed in its administration of its housing programs and exercises and demonstrates a high level of professionalism while providing housing services to the families within its jurisdiction. The Housing Authority is continuously assessing its program and consistently striving to make improvements.