On Tuesday, April 1 in Augusta, a local affordable housing nonprofit closed on a forgivable loan from the Maine State Housing Authority, known as MaineHousing. The Cranberry Isles Realty Trust (CIRT) plans to use the funds, matched by money raised locally, to construct two modular homes on Great Cranberry Island.
According to CIRT President Phil Whitney “This closing represents nearly three years of concerted effort by many people to create affordable housing opportunities for people interested in living year-round on the Cranberry Isles. Although not everyone can be thanked individually, several are worthy of recognition due to their significant contributions. Bruce Komusin donated one acre of land valued at $30,000 to initiate the project. Attorney Nat Fenton provided many hours of legal research and support. Liza Fleming-Ives and Mary Terry of Genesis Fund offered gracious counsel and advice in support of keeping the project steadily moving forward. Members of the CIRT Board of Directors, past and present, contributed their expertise and efforts in many ways – housing design, budgeting issues, fundraising, liaison with outside officials – and simply being there during lengthy and numerous meetings with moral support and ideas to keep us moving forward. Thank you all.”
“This is a great day for the Cranberry Isles and for all the Maine islands working to sustain their year-round communities. Growing Great Cranberry is the seventh and final project funded through a partnership of MaineHousing and island communities. The projects will result in 18 new and renovated energy efficient, affordable homes,” says Liza Fleming-Ives, Deputy Director of the Genesis Community Loan Fund, offering a statewide perspective. “This housing will make a difference not only for the new residents who will appreciate safe and secure year-round homes but for the island communities in general that will benefit from a stable, growing and contributing workforce. The Genesis Fund has been pleased to play a role in helping to make these projects possible.”
MaineHousing is contributing $355,000 from its Affordable Housing Initiative for Maine Islands towards the Growing Great Cranberry Project. The balance of the over $500,000 development budget has been raised by CIRT in the community and it has taken out a small bank loan. CIRT has worked with Coastal Builders of Trenton to develop house and site plans that meet MaineHousing’s construction and design standards.
“The addition of two affordable housing structures on Great Cranberry Island now brings to 18 the total number of homes being made available to income-eligible islanders through the Affordable Housing Initiative for Maine Islands,” said MaineHousing Director John Gallagher. “The initiative supports the vitality of Maine’s islands as year-round residences, and recognizes the need to help those who make their livelihoods there. We’re proud to add to the uniqueness of Maine’s Great Cranberry Island by partnering with local community groups to fund this project.”
Some of the site work for the two-home development has already been completed. Coastal Builders plans to get started right away on drilling wells and excavating foundations. The houses should be assembled on site by the summer.
Organized in 1996, CIRT owns two rental houses on Great Cranberry Island and one on Islesford. CIRT also purchased a fourth home, added deed restrictions to ensure long-term affordability, and then sold it to an income-eligible family at an affordable price. These homes have allowed a great variety of people stay on the islands when other affordable housing was not available and they have also served as a first island home for others. Many children have attended the Ashley Bryan School while living with their families in the CIRT-owned houses.
People interested in living in one of the new homes, should go the CIRT website, cirtrust.org, for more information.
The Cranberry Isles Realty Trust is a nonprofit organization of islanders dedicated to providing year-round housing for those who otherwise could not afford it.
In the photo from left to right:
Liza Fleming-Ives and Mary Terry, Genesis
Bill Glover, MaineHousing
CHris Johnsotn, CIRT board
Linda Uhl, MaineHousing
Phil Whitney and Bruce Komusin, CIRT board
Nat Fenton, CIRT’s attorney