July 20, 2018
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Island Housing Trust Provides First Grant for Homeownership to a Northeast Harbor Family

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Mount Desert, Maine – Kyle and Lelania Avila’s long search for an affordable home to purchase on Mount Desert Island officially ceased on September 15 when they closed on a loan for a home in Northeast Harbor through Bar Harbor Savings & Loan.

The Avila’s purchased their home with the assistance of an Island Housing Trust (IHT) bridge grant made possible through IHT’s Homeownership Assistance Program (HOAP).

“We want to express our deepest gratitude to you all for helping us make this deal happen,” said Kyle and Lelania Avila. “We couldn’t have done it without IHT,” they said.

Kyle is the tax assessor for the Town of Mount Desert and Lelania is an accomplished calligrapher. They have two children.

Applicants for IHT’s HOAP program are individuals and families working year-round on MDI. Unlike many housing assistance grant programs, the applicant is not required to buy into a specific type of residential property or neighborhood. In keeping with the principle of “willing seller/willing buyer,” the buyer negotiates a purchase price with the seller as is the case with any other real estate purchase. The applicant then applies for a mortgage loan from a lender and, at the same time, applies to IHT for a bridge grant if there is a likely gap between what the negotiated sales price is and what the bank will lend.

“In most cases, these same buyers could purchase a home in the communities off Island without any help,” said Chris Spruce, IHT Executive Director. “The problem with that result, however, is that MDI communities continue to lose year-round population and thus the core group of community leaders that ensure the towns and villages on the Island remain vital and viable.”

As is the case with all HOAP participants, the Avila’s agreed to abide by IHT’s affordability covenants, which ensure that the properties will remain affordable to qualified working households if they are re-sold in future years.

IHT has completed nine bridge grant projects since 2012, eight of which are in Southwest Harbor, Tremont, Bar Harbor and Somesville.

Though IHT has worked with a variety of local lenders, Bar Harbor Savings & Loan has financed eight out of the nine HOAP projects.

“What made this bridge grant so unique was that the Avila’s are moving into a year-round home located in the village of Northeast Harbor,” said Spruce. “Among all MDI towns and villages, Northeast Harbor is unusual because property values there far outstrip property values in nearly all of the rest of the Island. Of course, we depend entirely on contributions from individuals and private foundations for this program to continue anywhere on MDI.”

Island Housing Trust promotes viable, year-round island communities by providing homeownership opportunities that are affordable to year-round working individuals and families. To learn more about IHT, visit: http://www.islandhousingtrust.org.

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