Mayor Valli Geiger is ramping up the effort to deal with the city's lack of affordable housing by considering the possible use of the McLain School and the upper stories of downtown buildings for residences.

Geiger is sponsoring an agenda item for the Rockland City Council's Dec. 11 meeting to create an ad-hoc housing task force.

One subcommittee of the task force would look at converting the McLain School into housing.

The three-story brick building was built in 1896 and served as an elementary school and later as administrative offices and the center for alternative and adult education for the Rockland-area school district.

The Regional School Unit 13 Board voted in January to offer the building to Rockland. State law gives municipalities first option when a school is no longer being used.

City and school officials toured the building March 8. And May 8, the City Council voted to accept the building once the school district is no longer using it.

In May, then-Acting City Manager Audra Caler Bell said Penquis and a couple of other private housing developers had asked to be informed when the city begins looking to solicit proposals for use of the building.

Penquis Housing Director Jason Bird said at that time the McLain building could provide an opportunity to help address Rockland's workforce housing shortage.

Another subcommittee of the proposed Rockland task force would review the use of upper floors of downtown buildings for residences and what steps the city could take to assist in further redeveloping the upper stories into residences.

Yet another subcommittee would look at enacting "reasonable regulations for so-called tiny houses."

In neighboring Rockport, the town Planning Board held a pre-application meeting in August to hear plans by the Hospitality House on Old County Road to build a number of tiny houses on land at the homeless shelter. The proposed houses there would be 290 square feet.

Habitat is also looking to build approximately 12 one- and two-bedroom houses on Philbrick Avenue in Rockland, land the nonprofit housing organization purchased in January. A Habitat representative met with the city last month on the project. No application has yet been filed with the city to develop the land on the street, which is off Camden Street.

The lack of affordable housing has been considered one of the most pressing problems facing Rockland during the past decade.

The number of committee members has not been determined and a timetable for when the committees should issue recommendations has not been established.