AUGUSTA — The Maine House of Representatives voted Tuesday to create a grant program to support construction of mixed-income housing by nonprofit developers, cooperatives and public entities.

The bill was approved 73-61 and will be sent to the Senate.

“We all know housing is a fundamental human need and without it other rights … become impossible,” said Rep. Grayson Lookner, D-Portland, the bill’s sponsor. “Therefore, we need to do everything in our power to make sure everyone has the ability to live in decent, safe and sanitary housing.”

Lookner’s proposal would allocate $100 million for one-time funds for grants to nonprofit developers, cooperatives and public entities for the production of mixed-income rental housing, along with funds for existing homeownership assistance programs. The fund would be administered by MaineHousing.

The grant funds would be available for rental housing projects for people with incomes of up to 120% of the area median income.

They could only be distributed to projects with 20% or more units available to people earning 60% or less of the area median income and 10% or more of units available to people earning 30% or less of the area median income.

The bill, L.D. 1867,  was amended by the Legislature’s housing committee from an earlier version that would have created a new Community Housing and Rural Development Authority within the Maine Redevelopment Land Bank Authority to develop, own, lease and maintain mixed-income affordable housing.

“We need new tools and new approaches to housing, and (by) creating this fund, municipalities and nonprofits could create the vital mixed-income housing our communities need,” Lookner said.

If passed by the Senate, the proposal still would have to compete for funding before getting sent to Gov. Janet Mills for her signature.

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