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Business and Economy

Community Land Trusts Are Providing Affordable Housing To Working Mainers

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Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust
/
via Facebook
Kennebunkport business owners Tanya and Jen in front of the land that will be their new home in November.

Maine is in dire need of affordable housing, particularly in some of the state's more affluent communities. One approach to meeting that demand is the community land trust, which lowers the costs of houses by leasing the land beneath it to the homeowners.

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Kennebunkport's first affordable housing neighborhood is now under construction. The Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust is putting six modular homes on town land. The goal, 19 more over the next four years. The 3 bedroom homes are priced between $220,000 and $300,000.
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One of the Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust's new houses in he town's first affordable housing neighborhood.

Kennebunkport is not known for its affordable housing. In fact, its an expensive place to live. But the town's first affordable housing neighborhood is now under construction. The Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust is putting six modular homes on town land. The goal: 19 more over the next four years. The 3 bedroom homes are priced between $220,000 and $300,000. Trust President Pat Briggs says the homes are affordable because the cost of the land is taken out of the total price and replaced with a low monthly lease.

"This concept of using leased land which is in the trust is what we're using and we're looking for land, if you donate it we can work with it," says Pat Briggs, the president of Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust, or KHHT.

"Without the KHHT we were not going to be able to live here," says Tanya Alsberg, who owns a shop in Kennebunkport with her partner, Jen. The pandemic forced them to close their shop, cutting their income 75 percent. They couldn't get a mortgage. But she says the Trust helped them get financing through Maine Housing's First Home Loan Program. Without the Trust, Alsberg says, they would have to live far away from the town they want to call home.

"We wouldn't get to know our neighbors, be a part of community. we couldn't afford to without this, it's amazing considering what our future is like, the possibilities now," Alsberg says.

Tanya and Jen will move into their new home in November. Nonprofit Community Land Trusts are also active in Portland, Waterville, Hancock County and Mount Desert Island. Together, they provide more than 100 homes for working Mainers who otherwise could not afford to live there.