Scarborough launch nears for Habitat for Humanity subdivision

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SCARBOROUGH — Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland will host the remainder of its home ownership application meetings through the end of May.

The meetings are tailored to individuals and families interested in applying for one of 13 homes scheduled to be built off Broadturn Road, in what will be Scarborough’s first partnership with the organization.

The subdivision, which was unanimously approved by the Town Council in late January, has to go back to the Planning Board due to a timing issue.

“What you have is 90 days to record a subdivision plan from the time of approval, and their 90 days is about to expire, if it hasn’t expired yet,” Senior Town Planner Jay Chace said. “I don’t imagine them coming back for re-approval is going to be much of an issue.” 

Godfrey Wood, Habitat executive director, also said the process should be “pretty straight forward” and he doesn’t anticipate any problems.

“We’re planning on closing the transaction with the town in mid to late May at this point,” Wood, who is the husband of The Forecaster Publisher Karen Wood, said Wednesday. 

The neighborhood will be built on a 5.5-acre parcel off Broadturn Road. It will be the largest project for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland to date, surpassing a recently completed eight-unit Freeport neighborhood.

The first phase of construction, expected to last about two months, will include the installation of roads and extension of sewer pipes, Wood said. 

Construction of the homes is slated to begin in August. 

Historically, Habitat has mostly constructed single-family homes sold to low-income buyers who provide sweat equity in return for favorable loan rates.

In January, Mark Primeau, Habitat development associate, said the Scarborough project represents “a new phase” for the organization, which last week approached the Falmouth Town Council with a 25-home proposal

Wood said building subdivisions is “the preferred route for us.”

“It’s easier to organize and finance a whole project,” Wood said, rather than build individual homes in separate communities. It’s also easier to coordinate volunteers, whose efforts are a huge part of habitat projects, he said. 

From Thursday, April 30, to Saturday, May 30, prospective homeowners will have four more opportunities to attend informational sessions where they will learn the qualifications for a home and how to apply.

All applicants are evaluated in for “housing need, ability to afford and willingness to partner,” said Laura Duplissis, Habitat communications and volunteer manager. In any Habitat project, an applicant must fulfill community service and volunteer hours. 

The homes will not be reserved exclusively for families, and one does not have to be from Cumberland County to apply, Duplissis said Wednesday. 

Habitat homes are reserved for individuals or families who live in overcrowded conditions, have high monthly expenses, and who do not qualify for regular government-assisted subsidies. 

Applicants must have a household income of at least $30,000 in order to pay the monthly housing payment of $750.

Maximum income varies depending on the number of people in a household. A single-person cannot earn more than $43,200 annually; a two-person household cannot earn more than $49,400; a five-person household cannot earn more than $66,650, and an eight-person household must earn no more than $81,450.

Habitat requires no fewer than 275 hours of sweat equity, which includes 25 hours of financial education, 115 hours of work on Habitat projects and programs, and 25 hours of community service. 

The next scheduled meeting will take place at noon, Thursday, April 30 at the Habitat office, 659 Warren Ave., Portland. 

“We have already received a number of applications and expect there to be more, as this is a popular project for us,” Duplissis said.

The first group of selected homeowners will likely be approved within the next 60 days, Wood said. The first four to six homes are expected to be completed in early 2016. 

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.  

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.