illegal migrant apartments tax funded maine
© ZillowThe 60 apartment complex is being funded by a mix of private and public money through MaineHousing, the state's housing authority
Asylum seekers can stay RENT FREE in luxury apartments for two years

Residents of a Maine town have hit out at the $13million construction of a complex of 60 apartments for asylum seekers, where they can live rent free for two years then pay a fraction of the rental price.

Locals in Brunswick have expressed fury over the project, which is being funded by a mix of private and public money and which has been heavily criticized by Donald Trump Jr.

The apartment complex in Brunswick is one of the many projects being launched by the town in what critics have labeled a 'Taj Mahal', red-carpet welcome for asylum seekers.

There are currently 180 apartments in the Brunswick Landing complex available for anyone to rent. A one bedroom unit costs $1,800 a month, while a two-bedroom costs $2,300 a month.

Lisa Trombley illegal migrant apartments taxpayer funded
Brunswick, Maine local Lisa Trombley said the town needs to take care of its residents before helping asylum seekers
The new buildings for asylum seekers will allow residents to live rent-free for up to two years while they obtain work permits.

Then, if they obtain a job that pays half of the average local salary of $60,000, they will only have to pay a third of the rental price. It boils down to a monthly cost of around $500 for a one bedroom, and $690 for a two bedroom.

The state has also set around $2 million aside to cover rent at the properties for two years, although tenants will be expected to cover 30 percent of their rent once they begin earning half the median salary in the area.

While some in the area have embraced the project - raising thousands via a GoFundMe to pay for newcomers' furniture - others say it's unfair.
brunswick maine rental rates
© brunswickme.orgA one bedroom home in Brunswick costs citizens around $1,600 a month rent on average in normal circumstances
The plans have outraged some residents, who voiced their opposition at a heated council meeting on February 20.

'You have all these houses being built. That's discrimination, in my eyes,' local George Bernier said. '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?'

'You need to take a look at the needs of our current residents,' Lisa Trombley added. 'If we don't have a plan to take care of the residents we shouldn't be inviting them to come. No matter where they are coming from, we can't afford to do it.'

The units are designed to house asylum seekers while they await work permits, a process that can take at least six months.

Once they are earning 50 percent of the median rate they must start contributing 30 percent towards rent.

The average salary is $59,744 per year or $28.72 an hour in Brunswick per data from SalaryExpert. This means tenants must be earning $29,872 before they start paying rent.

The median rent is $1,600 a month for a typical one bedroom property, according to Zillow, meaning tenants would need to contribute $480 if the properties are rented out at market rate.

After the two years are up, it is proposed that the apartments are converted in to a mix of market-rate and affordable housing, unless the state deems that the project should continue.

Much of the criticism of the scheme stems from claims it is going ahead while the town is slashing its budget in other departments and while Brunswick is in the grip of a housing crunch.

The lack of affordable housing in the area is largely being fueled by the soaring cost of building since the pandemic.

The average home in Brunswick costs $452,329 according to Zillow, which also states that house prices have skyrocketed by almost 10 percent in the last year.

The town council issued a memo which states that none of its tax dollars are being used to subsidize the units and that $70,000 of private donations had helped furnish the apartments.

'The Town of Brunswick was not advised of the housing arrangement until the families moved to Brunswick,' the memo states.

'Although the Town of Brunswick did not initiate this project and is not paying to subsidize these units, it did coordinate a community-based fundraising effort to purchase furnishings for the apartments.'

In an interview with Bangor Daily News, Town Council Chair Abby King said that the scheme at a former naval air base was not originally designated for asylum seekers when it was approved by the Planning Board.

The median rent is $1,600 a month for a one bedroom property, according to the outlet. The average salary is $59,744 per year or $28.72 an hour per data from SalaryExpert.

The designation only came after the original developer sold the project to MaineHousing and property company Developers Collaborative, according to King.

The project recently came under fire from Donald Trump Jr while he was campaigning for his father in New Hampshire.

Trump Jr. erroneously claimed the asylum seekers being housed are in the US illegally and that they would not have to contribute anything towards costs.

'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,' he said in a news clip shared by the conservative Maine Wire. 'I mean, what's going on?'

Maine has a population of around 1.3 million people and has recently struggled to deal with a rise in migrants. In Portland, city officials said they received more than 1,600 asylum seekers last year.

But for the 23 families who have already moved into the complex, the facilities are a lifeline.

Among those benefitting is a woman from Nigeria named Esther, who described the accommodation as 'life changing'.

She moved into the complex after being moved between hotels and shelters.

'In [a] hotel, there are rules and regulations,' Esther told News Center Maine. 'In a shelter too, we have so many people. We share the kitchen together. We share the restroom together.'

Scott Thistle, a spokesperson for MaineHousing, told FOX23 that fewer than percent of the $1.24 billion the agency has allocated in the last two years was for asylum seeker-specific housing.