PORTLAND, Maine — All advised, between street-side areas and multi-story garages, the town boasts someplace round 15,000 downtown parking areas.
Nevertheless, many have a two-hour restrict and almost none are free, making them lower than supreme for these working all day in Portland.
However a program administered by the Portland Downtown enterprise affiliation and funded by Metropolis Corridor is aiming to assist low-wage earners by offering free parking, as much as six hours a day, when working their shifts.
The sponsored parking scheme has run for the higher a part of a decade however just isn’t well-known. Solely a handful of individuals at the moment put it to use every month. That’s why Portland Downtown is making a push this month to let folks in on the key.
“Our objective is to assist low-wage downtown employees,” stated Portland Downtown Government Director Cary Tyson.
Portland Downtown enterprise and neighborhood growth nonprofit funded via an extra tax evaluation paid by property house owners inside the downtown district overlay zone.
The car-stowing program, often known as “Park and Work,” is open to downtown employees making lower than half the native median revenue as outlined by federal Housing and City Improvement pointers.
This yr, in Portland, the median, four-person household family revenue is $112,700. To qualify for the parking program, an identical household must make lower than $55,850 per yr. A single employee would want to make lower than $39,100 per yr to qualify.
Portland’s present hourly minimal wage is $13. A single individual, making that wage, 40 hours per week, for a yr, makes $27,040, properly beneath the brink for this system.
As soon as certified, employees or their employers should purchase stamps utilized in lieu of money at city-owned parking garages on Spring Road and Elm Road.
Every stamp is nice for 3 hours of parking they usually are available in books of 48. Full stamp books price $100 and are good for 144 hours of whole parking time.
The hourly parking charge at each the Spring Road and Elm Road garages just lately elevated from $2.50 per hour to $3 per hour.
With out the stamps, 144 hours of parking is available in at $432. That’s a $332 financial savings from the common worth — or will be considered 110.6 hours of free parking.
Staff could solely use two stamps per day, nonetheless. If their shifts are longer than six hours, they’ll nonetheless have to fork over a few of their wages to park a automotive.
The stamp books will be bought with actual change or by examine solely on the Portland Downtown workplaces at 549 Congress St. To get certified, employers should name Portland Downtown and vouch for his or her staff’ wage and enterprise location.
“We haven’t had anybody abuse it as of but,” Tyson stated. “Simply name me or the employees right here.”
Tyson stated he’s undecided how lengthy this system has been operating, however it predates his tenure at Portland Downtown, which started 5 years in the past. He estimates solely 20 to 30 folks per thirty days are at the moment using this system.
“It’s not lots, and we’d prefer to see extra,” Tyson stated.
He admits that this system is a tad cumbersome however believes it’s properly definitely worth the effort.
Tyson additionally suspects extra folks will begin to use this system because the variety of obtainable on-street parking spots shrink with the return of tourism in a post-pandemic Portland.
He stated he’s conscious some individuals are hesitant to make use of a parking storage that’s not near their office, creating a substantial stroll.
“That’s extra of a strolling drawback than a parking drawback,” he stated, “however it’s a great way to get our steps in.”