AUGUSTA — City councilors on Thursday will consider whether to set minimum standards and require inspections of rental units for those who receive General Assistance housing money from the city.

City Manager William Bridgeo said multiple city councilors expressed interest in addressing concerns about substandard apartments and other rentals in the city.

“There has been concern about some of the rental housing stock in Augusta,” Bridgeo said today. “We’ve had some fires this year that shed light on some substandard conditions. And the fire chief and code enforcement office have expressed concern about some of the housing stock, as we’ve had to shut down some apartment buildings because of life safety violations. That’s really a no-win situation for city staff. You know it’s disrupting tenants lives; but on the other hand, God forbid we not be vigilant about that and someone gets hurt or dies.”

Bridgeo said a proposed rental housing standards ordinance could require the city to inspect apartments before the city provides General Assistance housing money to residents, to make sure the apartments meet fire and safety codes.

He said the city is helping 100 to 120 low-income residents rent apartments throughout the city through General Assistance, which is funded by a combination of city and state money.

The city has closed seven apartment buildings, plus one floor of an eighth building, totaling 42 rental units in the last year, because of safety code violations, according to Robert Overton, one of the city’s two code enforcement officers.

Bridgeo said other communities in Maine and elsewhere have enacted regulations that set minimum standards for rental units, and city officials will examine other such ordinances.

Bridgeo said councilors might discuss whether the city might also set minimum standards for all rental properties in the city.

At their 6:30 p.m. meeting, councilors also are scheduled to:

• hear a presentation from Greater Augusta Utility District;

• discuss a request from the state Department of Transportation to rezone land off Industrial Drive, in accordance with a Planning Board recommendation, so the DOT can move its maintenance operations there from its current longtime site on Capitol Street;

• discuss a proposal for new gates for Mill Park;

• discuss applying for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant; and

• discuss requests for permission to serve beer and wine at a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club at Buker Community Center and serve beer for Augusta Trails’ upcoming October Treadfest bicycle race at Bond Brook Recreation Area.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]