A rendering of the 3i HoMe project to be located in the downtown portion of The Downs development in Scarborough. Contributed / 3i Housing of Maine

A Maine-based nonprofit that plans to build high-tech affordable housing for people with disabilities in Scarborough has been awarded $509,000 in federal funding.

The funding will be used to “implement and analyze the impact of new assistive smart home technologies for low-income people with disabilities,” said Paul Linet, president and founder of 3i Housing of Maine.

The nonprofit’s mission, and the goal of the project at The Downs in Scarborough, is to provide a way for people with disabilities to live independently through smart technology at an affordable rate. Some smart technology could, for example, allow tenants to use voice control to open and close doors, raise and lower window shades and turn electronics off and on.

“We can make a real impact upon how folks conduct their lives on their own terms,” Linet said.

Linet’s organization is partnering on The Downs project with Boston-based nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing, which is taking the lead on coordinating design work, securing financing and managing construction, and will manage the property when it’s completed.

“These types of projects typically include a complex combination of financing sources, and it can take a while to pull everything together,” Cory Fellows, Preservation’s vice president of real estate development, said in an email to The Forecaster. “We have great momentum and are looking forward to taking the next steps.”

The 51-unit apartment complex in Scarborough is slated to be part of the first phase of The Downs’ downtown project. Linet said he expects the project will go to the Scarborough Planning Board for approval by late spring. Once approved, and if expected state funding is in place by fall, construction could begin in spring of 2024 and tenants could move in by the summer of 2025, Fellows said.

“Based on the response that we’ve seen from prospective tenants and advocates since our plans became public, we seem to have really struck a chord,” Fellows said. “There appears to be a lot of pent-up demand for this type of housing.”

The federal funding awarded to the project was included in the omnibus spending bill Congress passed in late December.

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