Habitat for Humanity celebrates new Portland subdivision
— Three years ago, Steve Bolton brought construction manager Dan Wallace out to see a parcel of land Habitat for Humanity owned at the end of Demerest Street.
"It was a steep hill with a ditch at the bottom," Wallace said. When Bolton, Habitat's executive director, shared his plans to build four homes there, Wallace's reaction, he recalled, was "yeah, sure."
A short time later, they were clearing trees and Grondin Construction was building a road up the slope.
On Monday, Bolton, Wallace and about 50 volunteers stood in one of the four completed Habitat homes and celebrated the new subdivision.
"It's taken a lot of twists and turns to get here," Bolton said.
This project by Habitat of Greater Portland will change the way the nonprofit organization approaches housebuilding, Bolton said. All four homes are certified "Green" – two earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification and two earned National Green Building Standard silver certification.
Bolton said the green idea came about when the organization considered the concept of using some materials from its Re-Store business.
"We put together a meeting to discuss it and 35 people showed up – architects, contractors, engineers," Bolton said. "It went from a few used doors to a new way for us to build in the future."
Habitat also took advantage of an affordable subdivision program through the Maine State Housing Authority, Wallace said. Two of the homes were "fundraiser houses," built by Habitat volunteers and then sold through the first-time homebuyers program for about $190,000 each.
"It ended up being a little bit of a mixed-income subdivision," Wallace said.
The other two homes are owned by families who participated in the Habitat housing program, which sells homes to qualified low-income families at cost with a no-interest, 30-year mortgage.
Munye Munye and his family moved in to their new home on Demerest Street last month. Munye said he has helped Habitat build 14 or 15 homes during the past seven years, including his own home.
"This is the opportunity to get my own house," Munye said Monday. "That's an American dream."