Freedom Place, located at 66 State St. in Portland, celebrated its grand opening on Jan. 12 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, sponsored by Camden National Bank that included a tour of the new space and had special guest, Gov. Janet T. Mills.
The renovated, three-story building, was converted by Developers Collaborative to provide low-income housing and services to women who are experiencing homelessness and struggling with substance use disorder. Camden National Bank not only financed a majority of the $6.5 million project, but also contributed equity that will be repaid through receipt of federal historic tax credits over the course of five years.
“Providing financing to Freedom Place is part of our commitment to our communities and our Hope@Home program which addresses homelessness in our communities as well as support those who are struggling with substance abuse,” said Greg Dufour, president and CEO of Camden National Bank. “Partnering with Developers Collaborative aligns with our commitment to provide a positive impact in our communities, especially in areas that are underserved.”
This historic renovation turned what was once a former church rectory building into a 38 single-bedroom apartment complex for women in recovery. The new housing features onsite staff and services provided by Amistad, a nonprofit social service agency that operates two similar residential programs in the Portland area.
“It has been an honor and privilege to collaborate with Amistad and Camden National Bank on Freedom Place. The fact is community development projects like this, while so needed and so worthwhile, are actually much harder to accomplish than many others,” said Kevin Bunker, founder of Developers Collaborative. “Having strong partners like Amistad and Camden National Bank was absolutely critical in navigating the inevitable twists and turns that come with this level of complexity. With several personal connections to the opioid epidemic, this project was and is close to my heart and I remain grateful that we were all able to work together to achieve it and provide hope to 38 women in recovery.”
Bunker had originally planned to develop the space into luxury apartments, but with the record high drug overdoses and ongoing challenge of homelessness in Maine, he saw an opportunity to build something that would benefit the community.
Camden National Bank understands the dire needs for those experiencing homelessness. Since 2015, the bank has donated $100 to a local homeless shelter every time a customer finances a new home, through their unique Hope@Home program. In total, the bank has given over $650,000 in unrestricted funds to over 50 homeless shelters to provide vital support to those in need.
For more information, go to camdennational.com.