MAINE ISLANDS: NEWS
A new home on Islesboro for a long-time resident
Jan Dooley rented a home on Islesboro for 19 years. But last year, when the veteran teacher at Islesboro Central School found out that the house she had been renting year-round was to be put up for sale, her only choice was to take a ten-month winter rental and hope something would turn up.
Eventually something floated up, but not accidentally or without a great deal of vision and hard work from many people on Islesboro and beyond. On July 26 a two section modular home arrived by barge at Hewes Point where the road nears the water. The sections were trucked to a prepared building site, a six acre lot that was acquired in 2005 by the nonprofit community group Islesboro Affordable Property (IAP) with help from a loan from the Genesis Fund. The following day a huge crane arrived on the island on an amphibious SeaTruk to set the two sections on the foundation. “The house joined up perfectly, right on the dime,” said Joanne Whitehead, director of IAP.
Soon, Jan Dooley and her two dogs will be able to move in. Through the now repaid acquisition loan from Genesis, a $25,000 challenge grant from the Islands Challenge Fund, $116,000 in locally-raised matching funds, and additional financing from Camden National Bank, IAP will help this dedicated island teacher own an affordable home that will, through the funding mechanism, stay affordable in perpetuity for any future purchasers. The sale of the home to Dooley will also make it possible for IAP to purchase a second modular home to put on an adjacent homesite on the six acre lot. That home will be sold to an income-eligible local family. A third homesite on the lot will allow for an additional affordable home to be planned for the future.
A workforce housing survey of people who work on Islesboro conducted in 2005 showed that 74 percent of the workforce was in need of inland housing. Many of those who work on Islesboro and would like to live as year-round residents are forced to live on the mainland and commute by ferry. One reason for the housing crunch is that traditionally year-round homes are being purchased as second homes for summer residents and the resultant rise in real estate prices. Those people priced out of island housing include teachers, building trade workers, and emergency services providers as well as those who make their living from fishing and related marine industries.
Bringing an affordable home to an unbridged island goes well beyond the logistics of barges, trucks and cranes. It requires a complex web of partnerships between island people, community development organizations and traditional financial institutions. The more often such partnerships are successful, when school teachers can afford to own a home on an island where the median home price jumped out of reach for most middle-income homebuyers, the more likely other communities will be to welcome such efforts close to home.