Rudman Winchell involved with Isle Au Haut Affordable Housing Project
Rudman Winchell is proud to announce the closing in late July of an exciting affordable housing project on Isle au Haut, one of Maine’s outermost, and least populated, islands.
Over the past few decades, year-round communities on Maine’s islands have diminished in size or disappeared altogether. The reasons are many, but one of the major factors in recent years has been the increasing value of island property and its attraction to summer residents. The rising values and property taxes have made it nearly impossible for low-income year round people to afford to live on the islands.
In 2010 the legislature passed an Affordable Housing Initiative for Maine Islands to help re-establish vibrant year-round communities, providing opportunities for people who are not well-to-do to live the unique life that Maine’s islands offer, and contribute to robust self-sustaining communities on the islands, integrated with the summer residents.
On Isle au Haut, the residents (year-round and seasonal) established a nonprofit organization to facilitate these goals. Isle au Haut Community Development Corporation (ICDC) works to provide affordable housing and microloans. See http://isleauhaut.org/community-resources/what-is-icdc/.
This year’s project involved the construction of two houses on the island, each designed for a family of four, using environmentally friendly designs targeting net-zero energy consumption and minimal carbon footprints. The land was contributed to ICDC for this purpose by the Town of Isle au Haut. ICDC raised a substantial contribution to the costs from donations and charity events. Maine State Housing Authority is providing funding through a loan that restricts the rental of the units to low-income residents, and limits the amount of rent that can be charged. ICDC can afford to do this project because the loan through the Affordable Housing Initiative program is forgiveable so long as the houses are used to provide low income housing for at least thirty years. Providing much technical assistance and additional financing for the project was The Genesis Fund, a nonprofit that operates to provide below-market financing and assistance to promote affordable housing by soliciting low-interest loans from persons, corporations, churches and foundations and relending the money to nonprofits developing affordable housing. The people at Genesis served as advisors along with Maine State Housing, to help ICDC develop a plan, obtain house designs, arrange for financing, and to start the construction process. See http://www.genesisfund.org/.
Rudman Winchell was proud to represent ICDC on this complicated project, involving many participants and the many unique factors of a construction project on an island reachable only by boat or barge, financed through two complementary programs. The firm provided ongoing assistance and advice to ICDC throughout the process, and contributed more than half of its efforts on a pro bono basis to assist in the realization of this worthwhile, and uniquely Maine, project.
For more information on the people and life on Isle au Haut, visit the island’s website at http://isleauhaut.org.
For an overview of the Maine State Housing 2010 Affordable Initiative for Maine Islands, see http://www.mainehousing.org.