SCARBOROUGH, Maine – 3i HoME, a Maine-based non-profit that is creating innovative affordable living options for adults with disabilities, last week announced that it was awarded $509,000 in federal funding to design assistive “smart home” technology for disabled residents at a development it plans to build in Scarborough with national nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH).
This project was advanced by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Senator Angus King (I-Maine) in the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Package signed into law last month with strong support from local and statewide stakeholders including housing advocates, members of the healthcare community and organizations representing people with disabilities throughout Maine.
The funds will be used to design, implement and analyze the impact of user-friendly, person-centered assistive/"smart home" technology and telehealth applications for low-income people with complex needs and disabilities. This first-of-its-kind project in Maine will be located in a new residential and commercial development being created at the site of the former Scarborough Downs racetrack 7 miles south of Portland.
3i HoME and POAH plan to build approximately 50 rental apartments that will include a common living area for social activities, designated work spaces for service providers and other related amenities.
The apartments will be designed according to principles of Universal Design for easy mobility with or without a wheelchair. Bathrooms, kitchens and all living areas will be barrier free and the entire building will be wired for adaptable environmental controls and smart home functionality.
Maine is in a housing crisis and with the closure of many shared living communities and nursing home facilities since the pandemic, the crisis has been exacerbated for this under-served, vulnerable population. Eight-percent of Maine residents ages 18-64 have a mobility disability that impacts their daily life according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“People with disabilities who find themselves challenged to complete activities of daily living are at risk of institutional placement well before their time, said 3i HoME Founder and President Paul Linet. “With the help of this federal funding, our residents will be empowered to manage their own lives in a supportive, accessible environment that will reduce hospitalizations, emergency room visits, improve productivity, and overall health and well-being.”
“Maine’s 2023 Congressionally-Directed Spending supports important projects across the state that will improve the lives of Maine people and invest in the future of our communities, said Senator King in a press release. “These historic investments are going directly to the local organizations who need them the most and can effectively provide economic opportunities, personal enrichment, and other vital public services.”
3i HoME’s partner, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), is a Boston-based nonprofit and a known leader for building communities of equity and affordability. POAH owns 4,800 low- and moderate-income apartments in New England, including 264 in New Hampshire.
“The opportunity to collaborate with 3i HoME to address a pressing housing need in a dynamic and increasingly expensive market is in keeping with our mission to create affordable, healthy homes that support economic security, racial equity, and access to opportunity for all,” said Aaron Gornstein, President and CEO of POAH.
The 3i HoME community at The Downs will be a “Passive House” concept that achieves energy efficiency, comfort and affordability at the same time. Rents for the 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units will range from $1,200 - $2,200 and will be set based on Maine’s affordable housing requirements. The development is in the planning and approval processes. If approved for state funding later this year, the development will break ground in 2024 and will begin welcoming residents in 2025.