NORTHEAST HARBOR – With distinct but overlapping missions, Island Housing Trust and Mount Desert 365 share a vision for the long-term viability of communities on Mount Desert Island through affordable housing opportunities. A partnership between the two organizations and a local family has just made a Northeast Harbor property available for purchase with year-round affordability covenants.
The current owners are committed to seeing their house remain a year-round home, according to a press release from the organizations. As multi-generation Northeast Harbor residents, they have seen their children play in the same fields as their parents and grandparents. “We were lucky to purchase the house from a local family that was willing to work with us financially,” they shared. “We want another family to have the same opportunity we did.”
After contacting IHT to explore how this might be done, IHT reached out to Mount Desert 365 to propose a partnership that would meet the owners’ vision and to add to the island’s year-round workforce housing stock. “The family wanted to do whatever they could to keep their neighborhood year-round,” said Marla O’Byrne, IHT’s executive director, “and have been generous with their time and commitment to this goal.” IHT and MD365 have developed a partnership to ensure that the property remains available to year-round households through the use of a shared equity model and affordability covenants.
The house at 5 Lookout Way is being sold for $275,000 and features a sizeable yard and is located around the corner from the elementary school and library. It has four bedrooms on the second floor and two bathrooms, with the possibility of converting a first-floor room into a fifth bedroom. It would be ideal for a household of 4–8 people. Built in 1925 with a traditional shingle roof and yellow shingle and clapboard exterior, the building’s recent improvements include double-pane windows on the second floor, recently painted exterior trim and a renovated kitchen with open shelves, new counters and fresh paint. Other amenities include a fireplace and chimney and a walk-out basement.
Affordability covenants are tools used around the country to ensure that homes are kept affordable for certain income brackets. Typically, an organization makes an investment into the property that makes it possible to transfer ownership at sales prices below the market rate. With a shared equity model, the organization retains ownership of the land while the homeowner owns the improvements. A long-term lease between homeowner and organization ensures that the land is available to its residents for life.
Through this partnership, MD365 will purchase 5 Lookout Way, retain ownership of the underlying land and resell the improvements at a reduced price with covenants. IHT will facilitate the sale of the property to an eligible buyer and work with the homeowners to manage the land lease and covenants for the duration of their ownership.
“We are very pleased to make this long-term investment into affordable year-round homeownership here in Northeast Harbor, and grateful to the family selling the home to make this opportunity available to others,” said Kathy Miller, executive director of Mount Desert 365. “We are also happy to continue our collaboration with Island Housing Trust whenever possible to advance our mutual goals. We know they’ll be great partners moving forward.”
Eligibility criteria have been established to ensure that the sale of the property will add to the year-round population of Northeast Harbor. Applicants must meet the income requirements and agree to abide by the covenants regarding the land lease, changes to the property and any future sale of the property. Find out how to apply to purchase this property at islandhousingtrust.org/new-projects.