Applications open Jan. 1 for affordable homes being built by the Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust. There will be two duplexes, like this one and two-story property, along with two single family dwellings. The homes will be located on a 4.6 acre lot on Main Street between Consolidated School and Cape Porpoise. Courtesy Image

KENNEBUNKPORT – Looking to live in Kennebunkport? Perhaps you were raised in the community or work here, and have looked in vain for a home you can afford. Perhaps your kids attend Consolidated School. Perhaps you want to return to the area after living away and raise your family in Kennebunkport – if you could just find a home with a price tag that works with your income.

Now could be your time. The Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust is looking for eligible applicants for Heritage Woods, a new neighborhood on Main Street, between Cape Porpoise and Consolidated School.

Here is an example of a two story single family to be located oin Heritage Woods, an affordable housing community offered by Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust. Applications open Jan. 1. Courtesy image

Six homes will be constructed in 2021, said Kennebunkport Town Manager Laurie Smith. All will be energy efficient and include three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The one-story homes will be about 1,200 square feet, and the two-story dwellings 1,700 square feet. Home prices will be $220,000 for the one-story and $297,500 for the two stories.

Applications open Jan. 1 and close Jan. 22. Applicants will need to meet household income limits, have an acceptable credit score, be a first-time homebuyer or a military veteran, and sign a land lease and affordability covenants. Information on income guidelines, links to virtual homeownership meetings and applications are at www.khht.org.

The Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust came to be for a couple of reasons, said board member Sarah Dore, including to skyrocketing housing costs in town – and the spiraling sales of seasonal homes, resulting in less than 45 percent of the population being year-round residents. Dore noted that the average age of Kennebunkport residents is 65 – a figure that is 40 percent greater than the rest of York County. Enrollment at Kennebunkport Consolidated School has decreased by 33 percent in the past 10 years and 80 percent of Kennebunkport’s workforce commute into town from neighboring communities, she said.

“The bottom line? Kennebunkport has less and less people living here year-round and those who remain are aging, resulting in less children in our newly renovated local K-5 school,” said Dore. “The vast majority of people who work for, or in the town, commute from neighboring towns due to the rising costs of homes in Kennebunkport, which are increasingly out of the range of affordable for young families and first-time homebuyers. ”

To achieve the housing prices set, the homes will be 76 percent financed by the homeowner, 19 percent through grants and contributions from foundations, and 5 percent through community fundraising. Homeowners sign a land lease for a 99-year period.

“With housing prices increasing each year, these homes will be a bargain for a family that meets the income qualifications,” said Jamie Mitchell, a member of the housing trust board. As the goal is to provide affordable homes, the applicant’s income cannot exceed 80 percent of the area median income for the one-story homes or 120 percent of area median income for the two-story homes. Besides income requirements, applicants earn points for local connections, such as living or working in the community, local volunteerism, and children in the school system.

Income limits depend on family size and whether the homeowner selects one-story or two-story home. For a four-person household, the minimum income is $48,000, and maximum $63,200 for the one-story home, or $64,000 to a maximum of $90,850 for the two-story home.

The six applications that best meet the KHHT pre-qualifications and are selected to move forward with the process will be provided additional information about next steps, including steps to complete the purchase and sale agreement and mortgage application process with Bangor Savings Bank. Families interested in applying should attend one of the upcoming virtual informational sessions scheduled in January, trust members advised.

The Kennebunkport Heritage Housing Trust, composed of seven voting members and two ex-officio members, was formed after the board of selectmen commissioned a housing study in 2017 and voted in 2018 to appoint a housing committee which later became a became a nonprofit housing trust, similar to those on Mount Desert Island, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard.

Selectmen donated a 4.6-acre, tax-acquired lot for the first project, Heritage Woods, on March 28, 2019.

Eventually, the housing trust hopes to build 19 additional homes, for a total of 25, and are exploring future sites and locations, said Dore.

As for the six homes at Heritage Woods, expected to be ready for occupation in the fall, the trust sought out multiple sources of grant and foundation resources totaling over $400,000 – of which $135,000 is from the Maine Housing First Home Loan program.

As a result of COVID-19, unforeseen building cost increases, and limited fundraising opportunities, Dore said the trust must continue to reduce development costs and raise an additional $100,000 by April. Donations and gifts are welcomed at www.khht.org/donor-info.

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