Advocates for low-income Mainers are praising an $18 million rent relief pilot program that will be paid for by the state’s supplemental budget, which the Legislature approved early Thursday. 

The program, run by MaineHousing, will allocate up to $800 a month for housing costs for individuals or families who qualify for up to two years. According to MaineHousing, the program’s primary aim is to prevent evictions for low-income Maine individuals and families.  

The one-time funding, according to MaineHousing, won’t be available for another 90 days. A spokesperson for MaineHousing said officials are still working on the finer details of the program and estimate it will not begin until at least late July. 

"MaineHousing looks forward to creating an effective program to keep people housed who are at risk,” said MaineHousing Executive Director Dan Brennan. “We are planning to work with our partners to design a program to do that in the coming weeks as we prepare to receive this funding." 

The new program was welcomed by advocates, including Maine Equal Justice, a nonprofit focused on civil legal aid and economic justice. 

“Homes are everything–where we find safety, opportunity, and take care of our families,” said Andrea Steward, a policy advocate at Maine Equal Justice. “With this rent relief pilot, many Maine households over the next two years will escape eviction, and that is a great big step toward solving our housing crisis.” 

According to Maine Equal Justice, nearly 6,000 Maine households faced eviction in 2023 alone, and most of those cases concerned nonpayment of rent.  

The program is designed to help people who aren’t already getting assistance from programs such as federal Housing Choice vouchers. The program, Maine Equal Justice said in a statement, will ideally help “single parents and caregivers, Mainers with disabilities, older Mainers on fixed incomes, people who work essential but low-paying jobs and students.” 

"I am so grateful to my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee who listened to the call from the community and funded rent relief in the budget,” said Rep. Cheryl Golek (D-Harpswell), a member of the Special Select Committee on Housing. “This is a much-needed positive step forward. Our housing crisis demands this and more.”