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Nonprofit buys Southwest Harbor inn to house Acadia National Park employees

The nonprofit Friends of Acadia recently purchased a Southwest Harbor inn to help house 10 park employees.

SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine — Affordable housing in our state is a tough find. Some places on Mount Desert Island, like Acadia National Park, say they have trouble filling positions simply because potential workers can't find a place to stay.

The nonprofit Friends of Acadia recently purchased the Kinsleigh Inn in Southwest Harbor to help alleviate the issue many seasonal Acadia employees face.

The inn has room to house 10 park employees.

The park aims to hire about 165 staff members every year, but last year, it fell short by nearly 50—primarily because prospective workers couldn't find affordable housing, according to Friends of Acadia's President and CEO Eric Stiles.

The park has 78 units to house park employees. Stiles said removing the barrier to housing is critical in order to get the best park employee.

"We deserve the best talent, and that best talent means you have to remove income restrictions to create this opportunity," Stiles said.

A struggle to find housing for seasonal workers is something many businesses on Mount Desert Island experience due to the community's lack of supply.

"Mount Desert Island is almost impossible to find a place to live for six months for the summer season. So much of our housing stock has been converted to air BNBs, weekly rentals, short-term rentals. It's almost impossible for someone to find a place for the summer season," Kevin Schneider, Acadia National Park's Superintendent, said.

Stiles said the Kinsleigh Inn will be rented out this summer for park employees. Rental prices will range anywhere from $400-$700 depending, according to Stiles.

Inn residents don't need to have access to a car as they will be a short walk away from the local grocery store and have access to the Island Explorer, a free busing system, which can help them get to work.

The Kinsleigh Inn provides immediate relief, according to Stiles, but he said the organization's goal is to add a total of 130 beds for park employees in the coming years.

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