Independent Portland land trust seeks partners, pockets

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PORTLAND — Armed with a new name, members of a fledgling land trust are continuing their efforts to develop affordable housing.

The Greater Portland Community Land Trust, now in its second year, is a group of volunteers who want to see more affordable housing options for Portland residents. Formerly the Machigonne Community Land Trust, the group decided to change its name while retaining its focus.

Rob Korobkin, who does community outreach for trust, said the organization has three major current projects.

The first is a partnership with a class from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine to help distribute research for developing real estate. Korobkin said the class focused on what some possibilities for community oriented affordable housing might look like in local neighborhoods.

“They’re working on putting their research together in some sort of big research paper that our organization will help distribute and promote around the community,” he said.

The second project is with the Dreamship Community, a housing cooperative at 15 Boynton St. that serves as artist studios and housing. He said Dreamship wanted a “community partner with some more capacity.”

“We are working with them to raise the funds and secure the financing to purchase their building,” he said.

The final project is the potential purchase of Home Start, a nonprofit development group on Peaks Island. Home Start, a community organization formed in 2007, bought a handful of buildings on the island and began renting them.

“That organization has put their emphasis elsewhere and would like to sell the project that they’ve made. So we might be buying those projects,” Korobkin said.

Korobkin said fundraising is three-pronged, and includes donations from local residents, credit and financing from lending institutions “specifically set up and chartered with the mission of offering lines of credit to groups like ours,” and government and public money.

Korobkin said the government already spends money on affordable housing, but not always in “the most efficient ways.”

“We believe that we offer a model of affordable housing that’s not only accountable and sustainable, but also an efficient way to spend public allocations that are going to affordable housing,” he said.

Korobkin admitted it’s difficult to raise money if an organization isn’t already established and doing projects, and that the organization can’t move forward on projects without funding. He said that’s why the trust has been working on finding other organizations as partners

Korobkin said GPCLT is planning outreach initiatives, including a monthly potluck discussion and working with local churches and synagogues “to build a network of support.”

“I think people want to see a diverse Portland,” he said. “I think people want to see a community that a wide spectrum of people can call home.”

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or