2017-10-06 / Front Page

Habitat project is humming along

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Justin Hemm and Jason Henry, members of Pilgrim Congregational Church’s men’s club work on the roof of one of the homes Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland is building at Carpenter Court, a 13-home neighborhood off Broadturn Road between the Maine Turnpike and Saratoga Lane. The construction is expected to continue through spring 2019. (Michael Kelley photos) Justin Hemm and Jason Henry, members of Pilgrim Congregational Church’s men’s club work on the roof of one of the homes Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland is building at Carpenter Court, a 13-home neighborhood off Broadturn Road between the Maine Turnpike and Saratoga Lane. The construction is expected to continue through spring 2019. (Michael Kelley photos) Approximately 15 months into construction, Carpenter Court is getting closer and closer to the vision Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland and Scarborough officials had for a 20-acre piece of property near where Broadturn Road crosses the Maine Turnpike.

“We’ve completed five homes out of 13. We have four under construction and are scheduled to be de- livered by next spring,” said Godfrey Wood, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland.

Wood said so far all five houses have been sold, three through the traditional Habitat for Humanity model in which individuals have to put in 270 hours of volunteer time, or sweat equity and attend home ownership/maintenance and financial planning classes before they can move in and two as Scarborough Housing Alliance houses.


Members of the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Southborough, Massachusetts, have been coming to Maine two weekends in September for the last 11 years, to help Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland’s housing building efforts. The group was at Carpenter Court last weekend. Members of the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Southborough, Massachusetts, have been coming to Maine two weekends in September for the last 11 years, to help Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland’s housing building efforts. The group was at Carpenter Court last weekend. The alliance houses, Wood said, are built similar to the Habitat for Humanity houses, but the potential homeowners who have connections to Scarborough are given first priority and don’t have to put in the volunteer hours. Another alliance house, Wood said, is expected to go on the market in the next month and will be listed at $230,000. Once completed, the project will have eight Habitat for Humanity homes and five Scarborough Housing Alliance homes. Three styles of homes are offered: one-story, three-bed- room, 1,150 square feet; one-and-a-half-story, three-bedroom, 1,300 square feet; two-story, four-bedroom, 1,400 square feet.


Five homes have been built at Carpenter Court since July 2015 when Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland and the town broke ground on the project. Another four homes are under construction and are scheduled to be completed by spring. (Michael Kelley photo) Five homes have been built at Carpenter Court since July 2015 when Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland and the town broke ground on the project. Another four homes are under construction and are scheduled to be completed by spring. (Michael Kelley photo) Marj DeSanctis, chairman of the Scarborough Housing Alliance said officials from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland have been screening applicants for both the Habitat homes and alliance homes while the alliance works on a proposal as to how to use the in-lieu fees developers pay instead of building affordable housing units in their developments. DeSanctis said the affordable housing account has $190,000 in it right now, but it soon will be infused with another $700,000 from Devine Capital’s Residences at Gateway Commons on the corner of Haigis Parkway and Payne Road.

Work on Carpenter Court began in June 2015 with a groundbreaking attended by town and Habitat for Humanity officials and financial contributors. Construction on the homes began that November. The town purchased the land from the Maine Turnpike Authority in 2006 to set aside for affordable housing and conservation. The housing development will cover five acres. The rest of the property will remain open space.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland Construction Manager Chad Mullin said work on the homes is moving along well, but due to a snag with weather and getting subcontractors on site this spring, the anticipated completion of the project has been pushed back from fall 2018 to spring 2019.

“That is the way it is with construction. You work with what you are given weather wise,” he said.

Mullin said the goal right now is to “shell up the homes” under construction so this winter work can be done inside to make them ready for their new families this spring.

As that work continues, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland is looking for a new community to build a project in. According to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland “possible candidates for land donation or reasonable priced sale include: local municipalities with tax-acquired properties or surplus land, families with properties looking for tax deductible donations, and more.”

Since forming in 1985, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland has built more than 75 homes all across southern Maine.

“We have been looking hard into some places, but nothing that is announceable yet,” Wood said.

DeSanctis indicated Scarborough Housing Alliance and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland may team up again for a project in the future.

“They have talked to us about potentially doing another project in Scarborough,” she said.

Wood said the work Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland does in Scarborough, or any other community for that matter, is not possible without a steady stream of volunteers.

“They have been amazing. We’ve had a lot of businesses that use a building day as team building. People love it. We have had a lot of volunteers. Some come just once, some come every week,” Wood said, adding each house has about 750 volunteers who work on it at some point.

The Pilgrim Congregational Church men’s club has been making the trek from Southborough, Massachusetts the last two weekend of September to help with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland projects for the last 11 years.

“The reason we keep coming back to Portland is it is such a well run Habitat organization. The best part is Godfrey, Chad and (Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland’s Site Supervisor) Ryan (Carmichael) make sure the guys know what we are doing and why we are doing it, so we can make a real impact,” said Pilgrim Congregational Church Minister Jon Wortman as members of his congregation worked on a house Friday, Sept. 29.

“The backbone, the engine behind what we do is our volunteers. Ryan and I are the only staff on site. For the two of us to build four houses a year, it is inconceivable to think we could do that. The volunteers, while they don’t always have the skills, they bring the effort and willingness to learn. This is a community organization and without our volunteers it doesn’t happen,” Mullin said.

Mullin said to have groups, such as the Pilgrim Congregational Church’s men’s group, regularly pitch in “shows us people believe in what we are doing.”

For more information about Carpenter Court or Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland, visit habitatportlandme.org.

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

Return to top