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Workforce housing a possibility for Scarborough's Broadturn neighborhood

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Workforce housing a possibility for Scarborough's Broadturn neighborhood

SCARBOROUGH — An affordable housing development may be in Scarborough's future if a $10,000 Community Development Block Grant is awarded to the town.

Habitat for Humanity and the Scarborough Housing Alliance have teamed up in the hope that a small parcel of town-owned land just off Broadturn Road, between Saratoga Lane and the Maine Turnpike, can be used for workforce housing.

"We're in the very early stages here," Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Stephen Bolton said. "This small grant would pay for engineering studies."

The 20-acre property, which was purchased approximately four years ago, used to be owned by the Maine Turnpike Authority. The town purchased it using part of it's voter-approved land acquisition funds.

According to Town Planner Dan Bacon, approximately half to two-thirds of the property would have to remain open space. The rest could be used for housing.

The homes would be built by Habitat for Humanity volunteers and would likely sell for $175,000 to $220,000.

Bolton said projects with Habitat for Humanity tend to take more time, because many of the supplies, as well as the labor and organization, are provided by volunteers.

However, because Habitat for Humanity holds the mortgages, the homes can be sold for significantly less than market value.

"We're looking at this parcel, but one of the things we've been sensitive about is that the neighbors don't want low-income housing next door," Scarborough Housing Alliance Chairwoman Sue Foley-Ferguson said.

Foley-Ferguson said both the alliance and Habitat for Humanity would host community meetings and do outreach to the neighbors to find out what they would like to see happen with the property.

"This would be a huge community project," Foley-Ferguson said.

She said the alliance is concerned because there are so few homes available in this price range, which is what is considered affordable for households making $50,000 to $75,000 per year.

"We don't traditionally think families making that much need help, but it turns out they do," Foley-Ferguson.

She said homes priced around $200,000 are sold very quickly, and often need significant amounts of work before they are livable, which, for many families, makes them unaffordable.

Habitat recently completed a similar project in Portland, constructing four homes on Demerest Street. Two other projects, one in Freeport and one in Westbrook, are also underway.

If the new homes in Scarborough are eventually built, Foley-Ferguson said Habitat for Humanity would offer them first to town employees and encourage those who are working for the town to apply.

Bolton said Habitat has done similar projects in the past, where they encourage those who live or work in the town to apply first, although the organization cannot require that the buyers come from Scarborough.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net