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Damariscotta Considers How to Spend COVID-19 Relief Funds

Excerpted from Lincoln County News

August 26, 2021 at 9:00 am Evan Houk

Marilee Harris, president of Stepping Stone Housing Inc., requested that approximately 10% of the $227,000 in COVID-19 relief funds that the town of Damariscotta is set to receive be allocated towards affordable housing in town during a public hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 18.

The Damariscotta Board of Selectmen heard from the public on Wednesday, Aug. 18 about how to spend approximately $227,000 in funding the town will receive through the federal American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus State and Local Recovery Funds program. There are seven eligible expenditure categories where the funds can be used—public health, negative economic impacts, services to disproportionately impacted communities, premium pay, infrastructure, revenue replacement, and administrative.

Marilee Harris, president of Stepping Stone Housing, Inc., requested approximately 10% of the funds be allocated towards affordable housing in Damariscotta. “Homelessness is an issue that doesn’t always get seen,” Harris said.

She said her organization will also be talking to the Lincoln County Commissioners about receiving an allocation of the estimated $6.7 million the county will receive from the federal coronavirus relief funds.

Harris said that the housing situation was “seriously affected” by the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years ago her phone would ring about three times each month with people looking for affordable housing and lately, she gets about three calls each week.

Evan Goodkowsky, management intern for Damariscotta, presents an update on broadband infrastructure in town on Wednesday, Aug. 18. He requested that everyone in town take the Maine Broadband Coalition’s internet speed test to help the town in gathering information and winning grants. (Evan Houk photo)“Everyone who rents from us works, except for one 87-year-old lady,” Harris said. “They all have jobs.”

Harris said the money could be used to help pay for a new two-bedroom apartment on Biscay Road, a laundry facility there, or to go towards paying for utility hookups for a tiny house that was gifted to the organization.

Stepping Stone Housing, Inc. is an organization that provides housing to persons not making a living wage. Started in 2013, the group seeks to work with homeless individuals or those in need of adequate housing in Lincoln County.

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