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RAD in Maine a Loring House story

Once, it was an alms house. Then it was a hospital. Today, it's simply: home.

This photo essay highlights resident experience before, during, and after a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversion, a project of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)'s Office of Recapitalization.

It includes an honest account of what it's like to live in a property while it’s going through a RAD conversion.

As with many New England buildings, Loring House has a fascinating history. Established in the early 1800s on Portland Street by the City of Portland, it began as an Alms House to serve the needs of the city’s poor, elderly, and mentally disabled. Later in 1870, it was converted into a hospital known as the “Greely Hospital” for the city’s low-income population.

Between 1902 and 1904, Greely Hospital moved from its original location on Portland Street and into the new, industrial building that is Loring House today. In the early 1980's, the growing hospital moved again into a new facility, and Loring House eventually evolved into a housing community for people living with disabilities and 62+ years of age. Today, it has finally received the renovation deserved by tenants through a RAD conversion project.

Some glimpses into the aging hallways and rooms before and during the RAD conversion project.
Loring House resident Susan Maloney sits with our team to share her experience as a tenant during a RAD conversion.

Susan Maloney has been living at Loring House for eight years. Prior to moving to Loring House and Maine, she lived in Kansas with her husband until he passed away.

After moving to Maine, Susan applied for assistance from the Portland Housing Authority and soon after learned about a vacancy at Loring House.

"I told her 'If you like it, tell them I’ll take it,' and I have been living here ever since."

A widow, Susan has four children (three girls and one boy) and several grandchildren. She has a lengthy history working at Goodwill and as a day services coordinator.

One of the things Susan likes about living in Loring House is the location of her apartment. It's very convenient to grocery shopping and pharmacies with direct access to public transportation.

Gazebo on the grounds.

Susan has always liked the Loring House property management staff and noted that any requests for repairs were always addressed. However, there was a slow decline in the condition of the property and residents would often notice those conditions more upon having visitors. The property was largely outdated—everything from hallway rugs to apartment appliances.

No more worn or dated rugs or aged equipment.

Over the course of the RAD renovation, Susan never felt much disruption from the renovations. The tenant relocation plan consisted of tenants moving from their unit into a vacant unit for one week while their unit was renovated, and then they moved right back in. While some rumblings from other tenants occasionally arose, Susan at least found that the inconvenience was nothing major.

Community rooms and lounges available to tenants now - no longer feeling like a hospital or old, industrial style building.

She often liked to watch what was going on with the renovations, and moving to a vacant unit felt like she was camping out. She was impressed that she could move back to her unit in the one-week timeline.

After the renovations, Susan noticed the changes as soon as she moved back into her apartment. The lighting was better and the fresh paint and rugs made the units feel bigger and brighter. Before the conversion project took place, the refrigerators were very small, but each unit was installed with new appliances during the process.

Renovated laundry room with new appliances.
Computer lab available to tenants, complete with new equipment and accessible seating.

Lighting has significantly improved under the renovation throughout the whole building. The building now also has a computer lab, updated laundry room, and exercise room. Common areas are brighter—more open and inviting—and the units feel bigger.

Just about everything in the building is new, including:

  • All windows
  • Individual apartment appliances and doors
  • Wall paint
  • Carpeting
  • Hardwood flooring
  • Common area furniture
  • A Telemed Room for a visiting nurse to use for visits with residents

Upon learning that things would be changing with the launch of the conversion program, Susan did not feel terribly concerned about the changes. Through tenant notification, the process of the conversion was thoroughly described to everyone. Not only that, but tenants were offered the opportunity to complete a survey in which they could share any changes they might like to see resulting from the conversion.

Beautiful lighting now spills through the windows to illuminate gently painted rooms, softening and opening up the spaces within the apartment complex.

Susan shared she was hoping for brighter lighting in her unit and the property, and after the conversion that is what she got.

"Moving into the new units felt just like moving into a newly built home - fresh and brighter”

This $17 million RAD conversion included 4 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), federal historic tax credits and state historic tax credits.

Critical and non-critical items in the capital needs assessment report included: Energy Star Windows; appliances, cabinets, and countertops in kitchens; new doors and flooring; new paint in the units; and the replacement of various dated system components in the building.

Credits:

Photos by Heather Rhoda/The Cloudburst Group, Chris Andrews/The Cloudburst Group, and Pete Landry

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