Increasing quality childcare options to meet family needs.
In Summer 2022, Promise Early Childhood Education Center will move from its current B-Street Community Health Center location to 1 College Street. Renovations at 1 College Street are beginning now. Promise will expand into five classrooms featuring Head Start and Early Head Start curriculum. The new space will help more of Lewiston’s youngest get ready for elementary school. More childcare will also facilitate parents’ participation in the local economy.
Additionally, a new childcare center on Pine Street will open in the Fall 2022. This new center will provide culturally-informed childcare. The center will be owned and run by recent graduates of the six-month Childcare Business Lab which is offered through Choice Initiative partner Coastal Enterprise, Inc. The program encourages local residents in small business development to meet local childcare needs.
These two projects help make sure children are cared for and are learning in safe, code-compliant spaces. These projects also create early learning and childcare job opportunities in the Tree Streets.
Building and restoring safe, quality, and lead-free homes all neighbors can afford.
The Wedgewood Mansion renovation and the construction of new homes on Pine, Pierce, Bartlett, and Walnut Streets is the first Choice development to be built. This development will have 74 rental homes in 8 buildings. These new rental homes are in response to residents’ calls for safe, affordable homes within the Tree Streets.
The City of Lewiston Planning Board and the City Council will consider a proposed contract zone change for Wedgewood in May and June. The requested changes include set-backs, parking, driveway widths. These changes will help ensure the new homes fulfill resident needs while helping transform downtown Lewiston into a walkable and safe place. It also furthers our city’s goals of safe housing and attractive outdoor spaces.
These meetings will be public. Everyone is welcome and we hope residents attend. We will publish more information about the meetings when we can.
Expanding healthcare access for people and families.
Promise’s move from its B-Street location makes it possible for the B-Street Community Health Center to expand. This expansion, anticipated in 2024, means Community Clinical Service can bring in more doctors, dentists, and mental health professionals to serve children and adults in and around the Tree Streets neighborhood.
Transformation Plan Successes
At the end of April, Raise-Op Housing Cooperative hosted a groundbreaking for their new development on the corner of Blake and Walnut Streets. The two buildings will each house nine units. The development will be passive house standard and democratically managed through Raise-Op’s cooperative housing model. This also means that the units will be owner occupied. The development’s location will also be infill housing, meaning that it is new housing built on a vacant lot.
In May, Avesta Housing and Community Concepts, Inc. will host a ribbon cutting at Gauvreau Place. Gauvreau Place is a three-story apartment building featuring 35 mixed-income homes for individuals and families. Located at the corner of Blake and Pine streets, it is within easy walking distance of several bus lines, Kennedy Park, and other services and locations important to daily living. The development is named for Paul Gauvreau, a well-known Lewiston attorney, legislator, and volunteer for several nonprofit organizations
Choice Initiative & Homelessness in Lewiston
Services for people and families who are unhoused have been a large part of the conversation in Lewiston over the last several months. Lewiston Housing and the City of Lewiston have had many discussions about how the Choice Initiative addresses homelessness in our community.
Additionally, HUD determines eligible activities for the use of the Choice funding and focuses on the creation of permanent housing that will transform neighborhoods of extreme poverty into functioning, sustainable, mixed-income neighborhoods. Projects funded by Choice are determined at the time of application.
The Growing Our Tree Streets Transformation Plan outlines the following long-term strategies to support our unhoused community members:
- Adopt a housing first model; prioritize providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness,
- Provide on-site wrap-around supports for residents with disabilities and/or in recovery,
- Provide no barrier shelter resources; and
- Provide low barrier transitional housing where permanent housing cannot be secured, including sober homes and congregate homes for youth aging out of foster care.
Choice Initiative funding will move these strategies forward by:
Building permanent housing. People and families with stable housing can focus on their health and economic stability. As part of the Choice-funded housing developments, Lewiston Housing provides preference to 20% of the units for people and families who are unhoused, victims of domestic violence, or people with a disability. Lewiston Housing will also provide access to supportive services so residents can be more successful in their homes and lives.
Funding services for Lewiston people vulnerable to homelessness. With increased access to healthcare, education and job training, and other services critical to helping people and families create stability, the Choice Initiative – and the investments Choice will continue to leverage – is helping prevent homelessness.
Choice is a catalyst. To address homelessness, we must build more housing to meet the significant demand. The activities implemented through Choice funding are just the beginning. This work is launching the transformation of the neighborhood, while preserving its character, and creating pathways for other partners to implement other strategies in the Plan. The number of new units needed to create stable housing and provide supportive services will take time to sufficiently address housing for all. This is a start—and a catalyst for additional investment in Lewiston’s housing and people. We look forward to more conversations as this work moves forward.