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Maine is leading New England in housing production, but it isn’t enough

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Bangor Daily News, February 2024

Despite its acute housing shortage, Maine has been leading New England in per-capita units permitted over the last few years, census data show. Maine permitted 5.1 building units for every thousand residents in 2022. By comparison, that number was 3.6 in Vermont, 3.4 in New Hampshire, 2.6 in Massachusetts, 1.6 in Connecticut and 1.3 in Rhode Island that year. The state was also on top by that measure in 2023, too. “These figures are a good indicator that some of the housing production and zoning reform efforts in Maine and New England are working,” Jeff Levine, a former Portland planner who teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said. “It will be interesting to see if this is a short-term increase or if it continues over several years.”

The national housing market has recovered slowly since the 2008 recession. The latest uptick is negligible when contrasted with the nation’s last real housing booms of the early 2000s and the 1980s. During that latter period, Maine was permitting nearly 8.5 building units for every thousand residents. Despite leading the region, Maine has far to go in addressing the housing shortage and affordability crisis here. A state report last October found that Maine needs to construct at least 76,000 homes by 2030 to accommodate all current and future residents.

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