Tackling the affordable housing crisis: Best practices from Maine
As state and local leaders around the country scramble to address a growing affordable housing crisis, the transition from theory to practice is playing out in real time. CSG East — building upon a 90-year tradition of convening state leaders to tackle the most difficult problems of the day — is proud to host a series of discussions untangling the issue of affordable housing and bringing leaders together to develop solutions for the region.
Our first webinar highlighted ongoing efforts in Maine, where cities like Lewiston and Auburn — sometimes called the “YIMBY-est in the state,” are dropping residential zoning restrictions, building affordable housing quickly, and revitalizing their communities along the way. Auburn, in particular, is one of the most aggressive cities in the country in building affordable housing.
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Senior Advisor, Community Development and Strategic Initiatives
Prior to joining the Maine Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and Future (GOPIF), Ryan served as speaker of the Maine House Representatives from 2020 to 2022. He was, at the time, the youngest presiding officer in the nation and the first openly gay speaker in Maine’s history. He also served as the Maine House assistant majority leader and as chair of the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development during his terms in the Maine Legislature from 2014 to 2022.
Ryan’s primary legislative achievements included the creation of a state tax incentive for affordable housing, instituting housing-friendly zoning and land use regulations, investing in vocational and trade schools, implementing a child care worker wage stipend, and expanding dental coverage to over 200,000 Mainers. Ryan graduated from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 2014. He has previously worked for a construction trade publication, a food insecurity non-profit, a data and analytics firm, and operated two small businesses. He resides in his hometown of Biddeford with his partner and two doodles Pancake and Jax.
Mayor Jason Levesque
First elected in 2017, then re-elected in 2019 and 2021, Mayor Jason J. Levesque is a fifth-generation Auburn resident. As Auburn’s mayor, Levesque has led efforts on zoning reform, housing construction, and the redevelopment of old factories into housing. Under his leadership, Auburn is roughly halfway to fulfilling a 2021 promise to build 2,000 new homes — significant for a city of about 24,000 people. In his 2023 address, the mayor claimed to have “passed some of the nation’s most meaningful zoning reform packages, designed to empower the individual, right generational wrongs and foster an environment of success,” and called Auburn “an example of how to reinvigorate a stagnant community.”