$13M Luxury Housing Complex for Migrants Sparks Backlash in Maine

By: Savvy Dime Staff | Published: Mar 10, 2024

A controversial and expensive construction project in a Maine town has sparked backlash from locals near the project.

A town in Maine called Brunswick is experiencing an uproar from its residents due to a $13 million construction project. The project consists of 60 apartments that will house asylum seekers who need a place to stay. The main reason for the residents’ uproar is that these asylum seekers can stay there rent-free for two years and then only need to pay a fraction of the rental price.

The Rising Costs of Apartments in the Brunswick Landing Complex Causes Anger

The costs they have to pay for similar apartments in the area have caused the residents of Brunswick to express their anger at the project.

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An image of the everyday life of Brunswick, Maine.

Source: Brunswickme.org

Residents’ outrage is fueled even more as this major construction complex is one of many projects in the town of Brunswick for asylum seekers. Currently, there are 180 apartments for rent in the Brunswick Landing complex. These apartments cost $1,800 per month for a single bedroom and $2,300 for a two-bedroom.

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The Costs for Asylum Seekers at These Apartments

Residents of the town are not happy with how much asylum seekers would need to pay for rent after two years.

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A gray and white apartment building with snow in the the foreground

Source: @WGME/X

Asylum seekers who have stayed in these luxury apartments for over two years will need to pay rent. But the rent is 30% of the cost, which means they will only need to pay around $540 a month for these apartments. Furthermore, they will only need to pay this 30% rent fee once they earn half of the area’s median salary.

This Major Luxury Complex Is Costing Both the State and Taxpayers

The outcry because of the project is also due to the massive costs to the state and local taxpaying citizens.

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An image of the Town Hall of Brunswick, Maine

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Any construction project will be expensive, with the 60 luxury apartments getting funding from private and public sources. Most residents are upset, as public funds are being used to benefit others instead of helping the town’s residents first. The state’s housing authority, MaineHousing, is putting in $6 million towards the project while the rest comes from privately owned development companies.

The Local Government Is Setting Aside Money to Help With Rent

Besides using public funds to build the apartments, the local government of Brunswick is setting aside $2 million to help the asylum seekers pay their rent for two years.

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An image of a suburban neighborhood in Brunswick, Maine, with a woman walking her dogs and cars parked in a parking lot

Source: @Fox23Maine/ X

This will help cover housing costs while they get their job permits and start their new lives in the United States. This $2 million rent coverage will also cover 70% of rent fees after the initial two years.

The People of Brunswick Was Not Informed

The residents of Brunswick weren’t told these apartments were for asylum seekers.

An image of Brunswick, Maine, in the daytime.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The local government only told the residents of the town via memo, once the first families who sought asylum in the United States arrived in Brunswick.

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Donald Trump Jr. Is the Voice of Opposition to This Project

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s son has voiced his opinion on the $13 million housing complex.

An image of Donald Trump Jr. speaking at a convention.

Source: @theblaze/ X

The outrage from the residents of Brunswick has gained an unlikely ally in Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who stated, “Up in this part of the world, and up in Maine, they are giving illegal immigrants free housing — multi-million dollar free housing, while they’re kicking out veterans in the street, I mean, what’s going on?” 

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How Do the Residents View This Project?

Residents of Brunswick have voiced their criticism of the project going ahead while the town is currently making budget cuts.

Georger Bernier speaks out against the 60-apartment construction project.

Source: @DailyMail/ X

Many locals of Brunswick feel discriminated against and as if the town folk were not prioritized due to the funding being used for the homes for asylum seekers. George Bernier, a local, stated at a heated council meeting, “You have all these houses being built. That’s discrimination, in my eyes. Am I too white? Is that what it is? Do I work too much? What’s the discrimination factor? How can we give housing to anyone other than our Brunswick residents first?”

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Hearing From the Side of the Residents Who Are Helping Out

Even though many residents are outraged due to the housing complex being built, there are still some residents who are helping out.

The Rotary Club of Brunswick is helping to set up furniture for asylum seekers.

Source: Bushwick Maine Rotary Club/Facebook

Asylum seekers still have much support from locals in the area, with many people donating to help furnish these homes. $70,000 of private donations have been made to help asylum seekers create comfortable homes, with residents in Brunswick helping to build the furniture for them.

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The Housing Complex Is Only Adding to the Housing Crisis

Like most states in the USA, Maine faces a major housing crisis, and an additional influx of people needing homes may cause further problems.

An image of an apartment complex construction project in Maine.

Source: MaineHousing/ Linkedin

The cost of rent has increased, as well as the cost of purchasing a home. A report by the Maine State Housing Authority, the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and Future, and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development states that Maine needs around 84,000 more homes to solve the housing crisis.

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The Number of Migrants Moving to Maine Is Growing

With limited funds to support the residents of Maine and the asylum seekers coming to the state, the government needs to prioritize funds.

An image of the door for the House Minority Office of Maine.

Source: Mainemorningstar

The state has been assisting these asylum seekers, which has caused their efforts to come under fire from some Republicans at the state house. Billy Bob Faulkingham stated at a recent meeting, “We found out a shocking number: $35 million, or 63% of that fund, is being used to house migrants, prioritizing them over Mainers.”

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Families Are Already Moving Into the Housing Complex

For asylum seekers, this housing complex is their lifeline for surviving. 23 families have already moved into the housing complex.

An image of Portland’s Riverton shelter for asylum seekers.

Source: Maine Public

With those families already living inside the controversial housing complex, it can be said it is a lifeline for all of them. A lady named Esther, who sought asylum from Nigeria, describes these apartments as life-changing. She told News Center Maine, “In [a] hotel, there are rules and regulations, in a shelter too, we have so many people. We share the kitchen together. We share the restroom together.”

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