Nonprofits based in Maine and Massachusetts plan to collaborate on a new housing complex in Scarborough that would offer affordable living options for adults with disabilities.

The project, announced Wednesday by Maine nonprofit developer 3i Housing of Maine (3iHoME), and the lead developer for The Downs project, calls for building 50 independent and affordable living units for adults with disabilities.

Final rendering of the Town Center at The Downs in Scarborough, the site of the former Scarborough Downs racetrack off Route 1. The Downs photo

The project would be located at the planned Town Center at The Downs in Scarborough, the site of the former Scarborough Downs racetrack off Route 1. Financing is still pending.

“The Downs is the ideal location for this pilot project,” said 3iHoME founder Paul Linet in a news release. Linet said the development will be near public transportation, employment opportunities and recreational amenities. “Providing appropriate housing for people with disabilities will reduce hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and improve productivity, and overall health and well-being.”

Maine is in the midst of a housing crisis, with prices increasing sharply over the past few years, a situation made worse by the pandemic. The closure of shared living facilities and nursing homes has made it more difficult for adults with disabilities to find adequate housing, the developers and advocacy groups say.

“This project in Scarborough will address an urgent need for accessible and affordable housing in Greater Portland that can, and should be replicated in other parts of Maine,” Jill Johanning of Alpha One said in a statement. Alpha One is a statewide organization operated by and benefitting people with disabilities.

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3iHoMe and Boston-based nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing entered into a purchase and sale agreement with The Downs in June and are applying for financing.

The 50 apartments would be designed to comply with or exceed Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Each apartment would feature reachable sinks, appliances and storage spaces, and roll-in showers.

The units would also offer assistive technology and other features to help tenants maintain autonomy. Rents for the 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments would range from $1,200 to $2,200 per month.

“The opportunity to collaborate with 3i HoME to address a pressing housing need in a dynamic and increasingly expensive market is in keeping with our mission to create affordable, healthy homes that support economic security, racial equity, and access to opportunity for all,” said Aaron Gornstein, president and CEO of POAH.

The Scarborough Town Council is expected to decide in the near future whether to grant the necessary housing permits for the mixed-use Town Center, which is part of The Downs master plan.

Since the former Scarborough Downs racetrack property was purchased in 2018 by Rocco Risbara, Peter Michaud and their brothers, they have developed more than 475 housing units at The Downs, including single-family homes, duplexes, condominiums, apartments, affordable senior apartments and a memory care facility. They’re also developing a business innovation district, a downtown district and parks and trails.

If 3iHoMe receives financing and needed approvals it plans to break ground in 2023. Residents will be able to live there in 2024.

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