Paul Linet, pictured here at the Scarborough site of a proposed apartment building for people with physical disabilities, founded his 3i Housing of Maine with a vision of fostering independent living residences for the disabled. Contributed / 3i Housing of Maine

Three years after losing his wife to complications associated with multiple sclerosis, Freeport resident Paul Linet founded a nonprofit, 3i Housing of Maine, to create assistive and affordable housing for people with physical disabilities.

Two years later, the Topsham-based organization is working on its first project, a proposal for a 50-unit apartment building at The Downs in Scarborough, which it hopes will be ready for residents by 2024. From there, Linet hopes to build more accessible and affordable housing for the disabled throughout the area.

“This project is really built on my lived experience of being a caregiver to my wife who lived with disabilities,” he said.

Susan Linet, a pediatrician and community activist, died in 2016.

“Upon her passing I decided that what I needed to do was draw on the experiences I and others in my network have had in navigating through different challenges caring for a loved one with disabilities,” he said. 


Linet is a former attorney with more than 25 years of family caregiving advocacy. He currently serves on the board of directors for The Maine Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

The mission of 3i Housing is reflected in the “3i” of its name: innovation, independence and integration.  

“Independent living can be achieved by innovative technology in an integrated home or community setting. We’re excited about the prospects of building a community that will be one of inclusion,” Linet said.

People with disabilities not only face the challenge of the affordable housing crisis but also a shortage of accessible homes where they can “navigate and live on their own,” he said. 

According to the CDC, 27% of Maine adults are living with some sort of disability, compared to 26% nationally.

“In the greater Portland area there are thousands of low-income people with disabilities who could use universal design housing or apartment buildings,” Linet said. “We know the need is out there and we think our model can be replicated throughout the state and potentially the Northeast.”


Too often, people with disabilities who don’t have caretakers end up in nursing homes prematurely, he said. 

“We’re getting inquiries from young people who have disabilities and say they don’t want to be forced to live in a nursing home, which is a heartbreaking reality a lot of people are facing, and we think there’s another way,” he said.  

Technology is a large part of Linet’s vision.

“There are technologies coming to our attention every day to reduce the emphasis on direct care workers and creating an environment where people can manage the day-to-day of living that we take for granted as people living without disability,” he said.  

Mitch Sturgeon, a disability advocate living with multiple sclerosis, is on the 3i Board of Directors.


At his home in South Portland, Sturgeon uses voice-controlled technology to open and close doors and window shades. He also has a robotic assistant for other tasks.

“It’s frustrating when folks with disabilities have to struggle so much to get basic resources. I’m able to have the financial resources to afford amenities, but I feel almost apologetic talking to other people with disabilities because I know they’re thinking, ‘yeah, it’s wonderful you’re able to get all these things, but we can’t,’” Sturgeon said.  

3i already is getting calls from prospective residents, he said, and it’s hard to tell them it’s going to be a few more years.

“We hope to be part of a new trend of true, independent housing for people instead of warehousing,” Sturgeon said.  “We need to have a change in public attitude that people with disabilities need to not only be kept alive but also given the tools to live fulfilling lives.” 

With the Scarborough project, 3i hopes to create a technology hub on the apartment building’s main floor where “we’re inviting in companies doing interesting things for people with disabilities, which will help residents but also be a showcase for the public on how people with disabilities can live fulfilling lives,” he said. 

“None of this would have happened without the vision of Paul Linet,” he said. “He’s been the catalyst for this, and I’m so excited he’s allowed me to help out.” 

Linet said it’s all about giving people with disabilities the opportunity “to live with dignity and independence, just as we all want and deserve.”

The completion of the Scarborough project, which is still in the financing and permitting approval stage, “will demonstrate that a better quality of life can be achieved by people with disabilities at a lower cost to the social service system,” he said.

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