2016-07-15 / Front Page

Habitat for Humanity work is on schedule

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Volunteers, such as those from IDEXX who were on hand last week, have played a critical part in the construction of the affordable housing complex Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland and the town of Scarborough are constructing on Broadturn Road between the Maine Turnpike and Saratoga Lane. (Michael Kelley photo) Volunteers, such as those from IDEXX who were on hand last week, have played a critical part in the construction of the affordable housing complex Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland and the town of Scarborough are constructing on Broadturn Road between the Maine Turnpike and Saratoga Lane. (Michael Kelley photo) A year after breaking ground on Carpenter Court, a 13-unit affordable housing project on Broadturn Road, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland said the group’s largest effort to date is going as planned.

“One year in, all the infrastructure is in place. The roads are in and the curbing is done for all the properties,” Habitat for Humanity construction manager Chad Mullin said Friday at the site, which is located between the Maine Turnpike and Saratoga Lane.

Work on the first home started in November and has gone well thus far.

“We are pretty much on schedule. We will finish the third house within the next two months and start excavation for the next two within the next several weeks,” said Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland Executive Director Godfrey Wood. “We are moving forward nicely.”


Construction of the Habitat for Humanity project on Broadturn Road is right on schedule. Residents are living in the Pope Francis House (left), which was completed earlier this year. The third house of the 13-unit development (right) is expected to be completed by the end of October (Michael Kelley photo) Construction of the Habitat for Humanity project on Broadturn Road is right on schedule. Residents are living in the Pope Francis House (left), which was completed earlier this year. The third house of the 13-unit development (right) is expected to be completed by the end of October (Michael Kelley photo) The project, a joint venture between Habitat for Humanity and the town, will include 13 homes – eight that will be available through Habitat for Humanity and five through the Scarborough Housing Alliance.

Scarborough Housing Alliance Chairman Marj DeSanctis said the alliance is still mulling over how to make those homes available when they are built. The group, she said, could follow the guidelines Habitat for Humanity and Avesta Housing use.

“Nothing is finalized at this point. It is still a discussion,” DeSanctis said.

The Habitat for Humanity homes at Carpenter Court will be offered through the organization’s traditional model in which individuals apply, get accepted and put in 270 hours of volunteer time or “sweat equity,” and attend ownership/maintenance and financial planning classes before they can move in.

Mullin said there will be three types of houses in the development: one-story, three-bedroom, 1,150 square feet; one-and-a-half-story, three-bedroom, 1,300 square feet; two-story, four-bedroom, 1,400 square feet.

The project’s homes, according to the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland website, will include a covered porch on the front, hardwood and vinyl tile flooring, energy-efficient boiler and insulated window, a coat closet, linen closet and one full bathroom. The homes will also come with a washing machine and dryer and dishwasher.

The homes will not include a deck or garage.

“One of the selling points of this development will be the energy efficiency of the home,” Mullin said, adding the houses are expected to use 60 percent less energy than a typical home of the same size.

Wood said the project has been aided by a large number of volunteers from various groups, including employees from the Mortgage Network, who were scheduled to help out last Saturday, and employees of IDEXX who were helping out last Friday.

“We are scheduling volunteers well out into September and October at this point,” Wood said.

Mullin and Ryan Carmichael, a site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland are the only staff members who are aiding in the construction. The rest of the work is being done by the future homeowners and volunteers.

Mullin said each house typically has around 800 volunteers working on it. There are, he estimated, between 60 and 80 volunteers who lend a hand every week. Volunteers to the Scarborough project have included high school students, town staff and public safety professionals, as well as a number of civic groups and corporate groups, such as IDEXX and Mortgage Network.

Carpenter Court is located on 20 acres the town purchased in 2006 from the Maine Turnpike Authority to set aside for affordable housing and conservation. The development will cover approximately five acres. The rest of the land will remain for conservation.

Now that the development’s roads are in place, Mullin said he has seen more and more people drop by to check on the progress of the construction.

“We want people to come in and see what we are constructing,” he said. “This project has been in the works for 10 years and we finally got it underway, so I think people want to drive by and see how we are doing.”

The development has already started welcoming its first residents, Brittany Mackowiak and her three young children, who recently moved into the Pope Francis House, which has solar panels and a solar water heated donated by ReVision Energy. The home was constructed through the support of an anonymous $60,000 donation. Mullin said Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland was one of the Habitat at chapters that was the beneficiary of the anonymous North Carolina-based donor.

“The Habitat program means not just owning a home, but having a personal investment in the house that I helped to build. It means being a part of the community, and building those relationships. Move in day  was  surreal. I  was  very happy, having finally obtained my dream. It  was  a very emotional day," Mackowiak said in a release annoucing her as the development's first homeowner. "I  was  so grateful, not only to have our own home, but to have seen the efforts from the volunteers that did all this to help my children and I. I know there are people out there that want to help me get to where I want to be."

Wood said Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland is still anticipating to be done with the project by 2018, but completion could come sooner.

“We are building as fast as we can because we have a lot of interest and demand,” he said.

DeSanctis said while the allocation of the housing units continues to be discussed, the Housing Alliance is also putting together a list of affordable units that are already offered in town and those that are planned. She said there are affordable units in Bessey Commons on Route 1 and Meadow Woods and Village Oaks at Oak Hill off Gorham Road. The Eastern Village development off Eastern Road between Black Point Road and Commerce Drive will include 13 affordable units and there are affordable units planned for Dunstan Crossing, a housing development Elliot Chamberlain is constructing in Dunstan.

“There are a variety of ways we are trying to address affordable housing,” she said.

There will also be affordable housing at the project Avesta Housing is doing at the old Southgate House at 577 Route 1 in Dunstan. The project, however, will have a different look to it than was approved by the town in August 2015.

The original project included renovating the Southgate House into eight new units and constructing a new building to the rear with 42 additional units, including a combination of studio apartments (8), one-bedroom apartments (29) and two-bedroom apartments (5). That plan has since changed and Avesta officials were scheduled to appear before the town council in a workshop session on Wednesday to go over the change.

Seth Parker, director of real estate development for Avesta, told the Leader the change was aimed at making the project more competitive for Maine Housing’s new qualified allocation plan, the program that allocates the low income tax credits the project needs to be successful.

“The change reflects the various new policies and new direction they want to push affordable housing toward. There is an increased focus by Maine Housing to incentivize more family units, more two- and three-bedroom units,” he said.

To that end, the plan now involves 38 units, which would include four studios, 14 one-bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units.

Parker said the plan does not need to be approved by the planning board or town council again.

“Our changes are able to be done within the existing dimension and footprint of the buildings,” Parker said.

Parker said Avesta is working with the planning department staff to update the plan and will apply for the tax credits again in the fall. If successful, construction could start in the spring/ summer of 2017. Leasing of the units could begin in summer 2018.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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