BELFAST — Developers Collaborative will soon be able to get reimbursed for soft costs for its Congress Street affordable housing project through the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Community Development Block Grant awarded to the city on behalf of the project.

There is $500,000 in the grant to be used for non-construction costs like engineering design and project permitting, according to Belfast Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge. Developers Collaborative will be reimbursed by the city, which will then be reimbursed from the fund, he said.

To be eligible for those funds, the city also had to complete an environmental review on the project, which was found to have no significant negative impact on the surrounding natural environment or social impacts, such as transportation and public safety.

Once the document is submitted, DECD will look at the review and the project will get environmental clearance after a roughly two-week public comment period, Kittredge said.

City Council took a series of measures last spring to help the company’s application score better with MaineHousing in hopes that it would be awarded tax credits. One of those steps was to apply for the block grant.

The city was awarded the grant last summer, but was waiting to conduct the environmental review until it was decided whether the project would be awarded tax credits, he said. When the project was awarded the credits in December 2021, the city went forward with the review.

Developers Collaborative is proposing 36 affordable housing units at 115 Congress St., where the old Public Works building was located. The apartments will be available to families and individuals who meet income guidelines.

Councilors have made it a priority to attract more affordable housing to the city as the real estate market continues to grow. With more houses in the city being bought at higher prices, it is becoming increasingly difficult for workers to find housing in the city, let alone affordable housing.

The Congress Street project is just one of three affordable housing projects proposed in the city in recent years. Developers Collaborative recently completed another income-based project on Wight Street for elderly residents. Across from that project on Wight Street, Realty Resources completed its own income-based housing project for elderly individuals.

In a January interview with The Republican Journal, Developers Collaborative Director of Affordable Housing Laura Reading said the company hopes to break ground on the Congress Street project in late spring or early summer.

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