ROCKLAND, Maine — Ten acres on Talbot Avenue soon could be the location of an affordable housing development that would feature a mix of rental units and owner-occupied single-family homes.
The site could feature eight approximately 500-square-foot one-bedroom homes, three duplexes with a two-bedroom unit on one side and a three-bedroom unit on the other, and as many as five single-family homes.
The proposal is a collaboration between MaineHousing, Midcoast Habitat for Humanity and the Knox County Homeless Coalition. It’s intended to create more affordable housing units in the region, where prices have steadily risen beyond affordability for more than half of the population.
MaineHousing — the state’s housing authority — tapped the two Knox County-based organizations for this first-of-its-kind collaboration because Midcoast Habitat for Humanity is experienced in building affordable homes and the Knox County Homeless Coalition works with people who are housing insecure.
“I have no doubt it will work. The end result is to put people in safe, affordable and efficient homes,” Midcoast Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Tia Anderson said.
The Talbot Avenue project is in the planning stages and will require city approval. If approved, construction could begin as early as next year.
Knox County Homeless Coalition would manage the rental units, while Midcoast Habitat for Humanity would secure buyers for the site’s single-family homes.
The project has been kickstarted with a $500,000 grant from MaineHousing, though additional fundraising will have to be done. The total cost of the project is not yet known.
In Knox County, median home prices are about $30,000 more than the average homebuyer can easily afford, according to MaineHousing data for 2019. In Rockland alone, 52 percent of residents can’t afford the median home price.
To address this growing need, Midcoast Habitat for Humanity builds and refurbishes homes and sells them at an affordable price to applicants who demonstrate need, who have the ability to pay a mortgage and agree to volunteer for the organization.
“It’s one of the greatest areas of need in Knox County. We’re focused on addressing it as well as we can,” Anderson said.
Habitat is in the construction phase of a 12-home development on Philbrook Avenue in Rockland. The first two homes will be completed in the next two months, with four more slated for completion in the coming months. Ground will be broken on the remaining six homes next summer.
While the Philbrook Avenue and Talbot Avenue projects are subdivisions, Midcoast Habitat for Humanity also builds and refurbishes single homes in neighborhoods that aren’t a part of a larger development.
“You have to come at the issue of affordable housing from all different angles,” Anderson said.
If the Talbot Avenue project is successful, Anderson said MaineHousing will likely work with other community-based organizations around the state to develop similar ones.
Correction: A previous version of the story misstated the number of bedrooms planned for the duplexes.