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Affordable housing plan underway for people with disabilities in Scarborough

If passed, the 50-unit complex would be located at The Downs in Scarborough.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — A project that would create more affordable housing for Mainers with physical disabilities could be moving forward. 

Town councilors this week are to decide whether to grant the necessary housing allowances for the planned Town Centre at The Downs in Scarborough. 

The first-of-its-kind, four-story complex would be located within the planned Town Centre.

"We think that there are hundreds, if not thousands, that could benefit from the model," Paul Linet, founder of the nonprofit 3i Housing of Maine, said. 

Linet has partnered with a Boston-based nonprofit, Preservation of Affordable Housing, to bring the project to life on this acre-and-a-half piece of land. Cory Fellows is the vice president of Real Estate Development for POAH.

"For folks who want to live with autonomy, independence, and full integration in their communities," Fellows explained.

Linet said when his late-wife Susan became physically disabled, he became aware of how challenging it was to find affordable accessible housing. 

"It will provide an option for a nursing home placement, where a number of folks are relegated even though they have the ability and support to live within the community," Linet added.

Each of the 50 units would be compliant with or exceed the Americans with Disabilities Act standards and feature reachable sinks and other appliances, along with assistive and smart home technology. 

Jill Johanning is an architect who specializes in accessible design at Alpha One, a statewide organization that provides people with disabilities information, services, and resources to live independently. She is a consultant for The Downs project.

"Each will have electric window shades that they can control when no one is there to reach them. Their door, their TV, and computer," Johanning explained.

Rent for the one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments would range from $1,200 to $2,200 per month.

Construction on the project could begin next year. The hope is the project could mark the beginning of more options for accessible and affordable living in other parts of Maine. 

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