2017-02-10 / Community

Renters encouraged to attend workshop in South Portland

The South Portland City Council will hold a public workshop to review and potentially enact a new ordinance that increases protections for renters throughout the city. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13 at Redbank Community Center, 95 MacArthur Circle West, South Portland.

The workshop is being held as a result of work completed by members of the ad hoc Affordable Housing Committee, which was convened at the request of the city council last year. The committee was tasked with examining the current state of the housing market in South Portland and to recommend both short-term and long-term solutions the city council can implement. Renter protections were one of the focus points of the committee, advocated for by South Portland Tenants Association founder Chris Kessler. The committee’s findings were put into question due to the resignation of multiple renters, make-up of the subcommittee tasked with tenant/landlord issues, and the lack of adequate legal guidance provided by the city.

Councilor Eben Rose and newly elected Councilor Susan Henderson requested the workshop be held independent from the larger issue of housing affordability, as to allow city councilors to take an official position for or against the various renter protections being proposed. The choice of venue was also purposeful to enable lowerincome renter households in South Portland to attend – particularly the residents of Redbank Village and surrounding neighborhoods.

“We appreciate the opportunity for our renter protection proposal to be fairly debated by our elected representatives rather than a committee with questionable make-up and process,” Kessler said. “The proposal has been modified to address concerns raised by representatives from the southern Maine Landlords Association and other property owners. We think this is a fair proposal that ensures stability for renters and landlords alike.”

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