House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, speaks on the phone during the final legislative session, Wednesday, June 30, 2021, at the State House in Augusta, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine House has advanced a proposal to boost affordable housing through zoning reform amid a housing shortage that lawmakers fear could hamper economic growth.

House Speaker Ryan Fecteau’s bill would allow property owners to build accessory dwelling units in residential areas and allow up to two units on a lot zoned for single-family housing. Up to four units would be allowed in designated “growth areas.”

“This bill will empower Mainers to contribute solutions to the housing crisis in their own backyards,” Fecteau said.

The House approved the bill, 78-51, on Thursday and the Maine Senate was expected to take up the proposal Friday.

Proponents say the bill is a step toward addressing a housing crisis that’s projected to worsen in coming years.

The Maine Chamber of Commerce projects that 75,000 people are needed to come to the state over the next 10 years to meet employer needs, and there’s already a housing crunch that’s hampering employers.

Some businesses report that prospective employees are rejecting jobs based on housing costs, said Dana Connors, the chamber’s president.