KENNNEBUNKPORT, Maine — The town has donated land on Beachwood Avenue to Habitat for Humanity, which plans to build a home for a local veteran.
The Board of Selectmen unanimously supported the donation of the land — located at 160 Beachwood Ave. — during a June 12 meeting. The town has owned the land for a few years, said Town Manager Laurie Smith, and it was acquired after nonpayment of taxes.
Steve Bolton, executive director for Habitat for Humanity York County, said the organization is looking to build a single-family home on the land, with a goal of finding a future owner who is an honorably discharged veteran. Bolton said this would be the first Habitat for Humanity home built for a veteran in the state of Maine
“What we’re looking to do is to assist more families in gaining home ownership. That’s Habitat for Humanity’s mission,” Bolton said, adding that the organization believes in a “hand up not a hand out theory.”
Habitat for Humanity was founded nearly 40 years ago, and in that time , it has built nearly 1 million homes, Bolton said. The organization should surpass that number this year, he said.
“Lots of families would like to stabilize their families and take root in their communities, but they just can’t afford home ownership,” Bolton said. “Teaming up with municipalities and lots of volunteers, we can create that opportunity. … We are asking to partner with the town of Kennebunkport to supply one of those homes.”
The future homeowner would pay the cost to construct the home, which Bolton estimated would be around $135,000. Habitat homeowners also are required to take home ownership, basic budgeting and home maintenance courses, and put “sweat equity” into their home — the equivalent of 400 hours helping out at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore or working on building another home or their own.
The organization has already received $20,000 in donations towards the project, Bolton said, from an anonymous community member.
Smith said Habitat for Humanity approached the town to talk about its past projects and opportunities for partnership. Through the discussion, the group narrowed down to the parcel on Beachwood Avenue, which is about 2.7 acres. After walking the property, Smith said the group “thought that it was a good match.”
Members of the Board of Selectmen agreed.
“Kennebunkport is the perfect location. We are a very affordable community to live in, we’re just not an affordable community to purchase property in,” said Selectman Ed Hutchins. “As a veteran, I’d like to come and swing a hammer when you’re ready.”
The board suggested that Habitat for Humanity try to find a Kennebunkport veteran who could move into the home. Bolton said Habitat has worked with stipulations from partnering communities that it consider someone from that town for the home first. If it were not a Kennebunkport resident — who would have to meet Habitat for Humanity requirements while also being an honorably discharged veteran — Bolton said the family would be from York County.
“This is something really nice that we can do for the people in Kennebunkport,” said Selectman Pat Briggs. “I think it’s something that we owe our people. It’s a significant commitment on the part of the town to do this, and it’s well-meaning. I would hope you could first look at a veteran in our area who could take advantage.”