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- The Forecaster
SCARBOROUGH — Three years after it started, Habitat for Humanity is wrapping up its largest project ever in greater Portland.
Construction of the 13-home Carpenter Court mixed-income neighborhood Carpenter Court began in December 2015. The 20-acre parcel of land off Broadturn Road includes 15 acres of conservation land.
Eight of the single-family homes are Habitat program homes, financed by Gorham Savings Bank and the Genesis Community Fund. The remaining five are affordable homes sold at market rate in collaboration with the Scarborough Housing Alliance.
Habitat for Humanity is a nationwide nonprofit that builds new energy-efficient homes, sold with affordable financing, to qualifying families.
The homes range in size, with three models named after Scarborough beaches. The Ferry model, a single-story 1,150-square-foot home, is Carpenter Court’s smallest. The Higgins model homes are 1,300-square-foot, two-story homes with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The neighborhood’s largest homes, the Pine Point model, are 1,440 square feet with four bedrooms and two baths.
Godfrey Wood, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland, said nine of the homes have sold and families have moved in. The 10th, at 19 Carpenter Court, will be completed in March and the final three – at 21, 23 and 27 Carpenter Court – are slated to be finished later this spring.
One-hour information sessions for those interested in helping to build and/or purchase one of the remaining homes will be held Jan. 14, 17 and 18 at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Candidates must attend one of the sessions, where they’ll learn more about Habitat for Humanity, the homes and ownership requirements.
Selection of homeowners is based on three requirements: housing need, the ability to afford homeownership, and the ability to collaborate.
Qualifying households must have a minimum annual gross income of at least $30,000, and a maximum income of 80 percent of the greater Portland median family income, or $71,900 for a family of four. Families will be required to contribute 275 hours of “sweat equity” as volunteers, building their own or other Habitat homes.
Construction of Habitat for Humanity homes is funded with help from corporate sponsorships and grants, such as an $18,000 Community Development Block grant, which Wood said will pay for the final paving of Carpenter Court in the spring.
He said another $25,000 grant from the Avangrid Foundation that will enable Habitat to make the next house built the organizations first “net zero” home in the neighborhood, which means the amount of energy used by the home on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy it creates.
“(Making homes net-zero) is the right thing to do, but it’s expensive, so we need support,” Wood said.
Homes are sold for their appraised value, which Wood said ranges from $225,000-$250,000. What makes them affordable, he added, is how Habitat finances them: buyers don’t have to pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs, which includes mortgage payments, insurance, property taxes, or homeowner’s association fees.
According to Laura Duplissis, Habitat’s communications and volunteer manager, the nonprofit has built 87 homes in southern Maine since 1985 and donated more than $500,000 to help build homes for more than 170 families around the world. Wood said the organization estimates approximately 700 people work on each house.
Wood, a Falmouth resident, has led the Portland-based organization for about five years and said it was “incredible” to see the chapter’s largest project through from start to finish.
“The best feeling in the world is to give someone the keys to the house they thought they’d never own,” he said.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland is nearing the end of construction at its largest project ever – Carpenter Court, a 13-home neighborhood off Broadturn Road in Scarborough.