Facts on Question C

PORTLAND'S QUESTION C will make it harder to build affordable housing

and will cost the city millions of dollars.


Supporters of the law are calling it the "Green New Deal," but it has unintended consequences that will prevent the construction of new affordable housing & drive up the cost of important city projects, such as the renovation of four elementary schools that voters approved in 2017.

The Maine Affordable Housing Coalition Opposes Portland’s Question C

The Maine Affordable Housing Coalition announced on October 5th that it opposes Question C in Portland and urges voters to reject the referendum.

“This is the first time the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition has ever taken a position on a local referendum question,” said Greg Payne, director of the Coalition. “But the so-called Portland green new deal is so bad for affordable housing, we felt we had to stand up and oppose it.”

Question C would place new requirements on city-supported construction projects, making it nearly impossible for Maine companies to compete for work and for affordable housing to be built.

“The people behind Question C are trying to rewrite affordable housing laws without ever talking to practitioners,” Payne said. “Portland’s green new deal is so poorly written, it will cause the housing crisis to get worse. There are hundreds of affordable apartments in the pipeline in Portland, and we’re concerned that they simply won’t be built if Question C passes.”

The Maine Affordable Housing Coalition is a diverse coalition of more than 135 private and public sector organizations that brings people together to find ways to solve the housing crisis in Portland and around the state.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question C

Why is Portland voting on these referendums this year?

There are several questions on the local ballot this year. They were written by a small group without public input, public notice, or public hearings. The proponents of the ordinances successfully fought to keep the language of the new proposals off the ballot. They didn’t wanted voters to see the pages and pages of complex changes to city regulations. If the initiatives pass, they cannot be fixed by the city council for five years.

I’ve heard affordable housing advocates oppose the Green New Deal. Why?

The problems with the Green New Deal are so significant that the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition is opposing a local referendum for the first time ever. Nonprofit organizations that build affordable housing must meet strict per-unit and per-square foot costs. Portland’s Green New Deal would increase the cost of building affordable housing so significantly that nonprofits would no longer qualify for Maine State Housing Authority’s funding program. There are hundreds of affordable housing units in the pipeline that will not be built if Question C passes.

Will this have any impact on renovating the four elementary schools?

In 2017, Portland voters supported a $64 million bond to renovate four elementary schools. If the Green New Deal passes, those projects will cost significantly more and the city will either need more money to fund them or to either scale back the projects or the number of schools being renovated.

Is the Portland Green New Deal the same as the national Green New Deal?

No. Portland’s Green New Deal re-writes the city’s building code, zoning laws, and labor laws. Unlike national proposals, it is not designed to create jobs or set effective green building standards. It includes very specific requirements for contractors that 95% of Maine homebuilders would not meet, therefore disqualifying them from doing work in Portland and shifting jobs to out-of-state companies.