Planned Scarborough housing project for disabled gets federal funding boost

A depiction of the 3i HoMe project to be located in the downtown area of ​​The Downs development in Scarborough. Post / 3i Housing of Maine

A Maine-based nonprofit that plans to build affordable, high-tech housing for people with disabilities in Scarborough has received $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 mission of the non-profit organization and the aim of the project at The Downs in Scarborough is to provide people with disabilities with an opportunity to live independently through smart technology at an affordable price. For example, some smart technologies could allow tenants to use their voice to open and close doors, raise and lower blinds, and turn electronic devices on and off.

“We can have a real impact on how people live their lives on their own terms,” ​​Linet said.

Linet’s organization is working on The Downs project with Boston-based non-profit organization Preservation of Affordable Housing, which is taking the lead in coordinating design work, securing funding, supervising construction, and will manage the property upon completion.

“These types of projects typically involve a complex combination of funding sources, and it can take a while to get it all together,” Cory Fellows, vice president of real estate development at Preservation, said in an email to The Forecaster. “We have great momentum and look forward to the next steps.”

The 51-unit apartment complex in Scarborough is to form part of the first phase of The Downs’ inner city development. Linet said he expects the project to be submitted to the Scarborough Planning Committee for approval by late spring. Once approved, and if expected government funding is in place by the fall, construction could begin in spring 2024 and tenants could move in by summer 2025, Fellows said.

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

The federal funds awarded to the project were included in the omnibus spending bill that Congress passed in late December.

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