A controversial and expensive building project in a Maine town has got locals fuming. Residents of Brunswick, a town in Maine, are upset about a major $13 million construction project.

The project involves building 60 apartments for asylum seekers who need a place to stay. But here’s the crazy part; They don’t have to pay rent for the first two years. Even after that, they only need to pay a small amount afterward. This has caused controversy among locals.

Locals Angered By Steep Apartment Prices

The high prices for similar apartments in Brunswick have really ticked off the locals about the project. What’s got them even more riled up is that this isn’t the only big project for asylum seekers in town.

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Right now, there are 180 apartments for rent at Brunswick Landing, and they’re not cheap! A single bedroom costs $1,800 a month, and a two-bedroom goes for $2,300. That’s steep!

Asylum Seekers’ Rent Concerns Stir Residents

Town residents are upset about how much asylum seekers will have to pay for rent after two years. Even though asylum seekers who’ve lived in these fancy apartments for more than two years will have to start paying rent, it’s only 30% of the total cost.

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That’s around $540 a month! Plus, they only have to pay this rent fee once they make half of what most people in the area earn.

Taxpayer Outcry Over Luxury Apartment Funding

The uproar over the project is also because it’s costing the state and local taxpayers a fortune. Building anything is pricey, especially 60 luxury apartments funded by both private and public money.

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Many locals are angry because public funds are going towards helping others instead of taking care of our own town first. MaineHousing, the state’s housing authority, is chipping in $6 million, while the rest is coming from private development companies.

Government Aids Asylum Seekers’ Rent

On top of using public funds for the apartments, Brunswick’s local government is putting aside $2 million to assist asylum seekers with their rent for two years.

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This will help them with housing expenses as they obtain job permits and begin their new lives in the United States. Even after the initial two years, this $2 million will cover 70% of their rent fees.

Kept In The Dark Over Housing Plans

Residents of Brunswick were kept in the dark about the true purpose of these apartments – they weren’t told they were for asylum seekers.

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The local government only let the cat out of the bag via a memo once the first asylum-seeking families arrived in Brunswick. Talk about a surprise!

An Unlikely Ally Joins The Uproar

Even Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has joined the fray over the $13 million housing complex.

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The angered residents of Brunswick have gained an unlikely ally in Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. He said, “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?”

Is Brunswick’s Housing Fair On Locals?

People in Brunswick are upset about the project going ahead, especially since the town’s budget is tight. A lot of folks feel ignored and left out, thinking that money for homes for asylum seekers is more important than their own needs.

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At a town meeting, George Bernier shared how frustrated he is about this. He said, “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?”

Community Support For Asylum Seekers Despite Outrage

Despite the anger among many residents about the housing complex being built, there are still some who are lending a hand. Locals in the area are showing great support for asylum seekers. Many have pitched in to donate and furnish these homes.

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Through $70,000 in private donations, asylum seekers are receiving aid in creating cozy living spaces. Additionally, residents in Brunswick are stepping up to help build the furniture for them.

Housing A Problem In Maine

Maine, like lots of other states in the USA, is having a tough time with not enough homes for people. If more folks keep coming and needing places to live, it could get even harder.

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Rent prices and the cost to buy homes have gone way up, making it even more of a problem. A report from some important Maine groups says the state needs about 84,000 more homes to deal with this big issue.

Government Must Spend Wisely

With limited funds to help both Maine residents and incoming asylum seekers, the government has to decide where to spend its money first. But, some Republicans at the state house have been criticizing their efforts to help asylum seekers.

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Billy Bob Faulkingham shared his worries at a meeting recently, saying, “We found out a shocking number: $35 million, or 63% of that fund, is being used to house migrants, prioritizing them over Mainers.”

Asylum Seekers Find Hope

For asylum seekers, this housing complex is their lifeline. Already, 23 families have moved in, making it crucial for their survival. Esther, who fled Nigeria and sought asylum, describes these apartments as life-changing.

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Speaking to News Center Maine, she explains, “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.”

You’re Not Santa Claus

In the middle of election-year politics slowing down immigration reform in Congress, Republican state lawmakers are saying Gov. Janet Mills and Democrats are showing more support for asylum seekers than Maine residents. But, they haven’t given any specific ideas on how to deal with more asylum seekers coming in.

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Right now, they’re just saying the state should stop offering a lot of welfare help. But, people who support Maine’s immigrant community say the money spent now not only helps people who need it but also helps the state by investing in future workers and families.

Republicans Ramp Up Criticism Of Government Spending

For a while, Republican lawmakers at the State House have been ramping up their talk about immigration. But last month, they took their criticism to a new level, slamming the tens of millions of dollars the state is spending to house and support asylum seekers.

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“Taxpayers need to know how their money is being spent,” House Minority leader Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, said during a State House press conference last week “This is unacceptable.”