Are Historic Preservation and Affordable Housing Advocates on the Same Side?

  Parkside Studios , artist housing built by developer, Peter Bass of Random Orbit, in Portland's old Sacred Heart School on Sherman Street is an example of one project that uses historic preservation to address affordable housing. Picture courtesy of Peter Bass. 

Parkside Studios, artist housing built by developer, Peter Bass of Random Orbit, in Portland's old Sacred Heart School on Sherman Street is an example of one project that uses historic preservation to address affordable housing. Picture courtesy of Peter Bass. 

The short answer is YES - if we work at it.

Landmarks has been discussing how Historic Preservation and Affordable Housing fit together in the greater Portland region. Here are 4 resources we found that tackle these questions that we want to share!

1) This is an article by the National Trust for Historic Preservation that takes a serious look at the link and disconnect between the two.

2) Directory of Advocacy, Julie Ann Larry, is attending a conference called "Preserving Affordability, Affording Preservation" and you can too! It is Friday, April 27, in Boston, put on by Historic New England. It is open to everyone. With a focus on the iconic Triple-Decker structure seen through-out Boston (but also Portland, especially, Munjoy Hill and parts of Deering)  this conference will "look at ways to preserve and adapt existing residential structures to meet affordable housing needs."

3) Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, a documentary about the legendary activist now streaming on hulu and available to borrow at the Portland Public Library! Jane Jacobs was an activist who wrote, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities". She fought for Historic Preservation, against urban renewal, and most of all for diverse and thriving cities - which meant diverse and thriving buildings. You may have even seen it when Space Gallery showed it last year.  Jane Jacobs continues to inspire activists including, a worldwide free tour event called, Jane's Walk; and a tiny doll project that "highlights lesser known stories of people who fought to save cultural resources".

4) Have you read Why Preservation Matters yet? We can't recommend it enough. You can find it at many area libraries! One of our own board members has said, "It blew my mind!" Max Page argues that historic preservation has a major role to play if we want to create a more just society. From diverse housing and new cooperative ownership models (like Parkside Studios, artist housing built by developer, Peter Bass of Random Orbit, in Portland's Sacred Heart School)  Page argues advocates of both historic preservation and affordable housing can help each other succeed, if they aren't already the same person! 

Here is an excerpt from Why Preservation Matters, Page 18: 

If we care about creating dense, and thus more sustainable, cities and towns, but reject the reorganization of cities by class, we will have to offer a new model for saving buildings and communities...This means embracing public housing as well as new forms of property ownership such as community land trusts and cooperative housing as a way to protect against the dislocations of market-based private investment.

Greater Portland Landmarks has invited Max Page to be our keynote during Preservation Month on May 9. We can't wait to hear him speak, ask him questions, and talk about how we can shape a sustainable and equitable future for the greater Portland region. Learn more or get tickets now