CHERRYFIELD, ME — July of this year marked the end of a remarkable Downeast housing program involving Downeast Community Partners, Mano en Mano, Sunrise Economic Council, The Community Caring Collaborative, and Maine Seacoast Mission. The five nonprofits were tasked with awarding $10K grants to Downeast residents to use either as down payment on a first home or for rehabilitation on an existing home.
The opportunity for this housing assist to Downeast residents was through an equally remarkable anonymous $500K donation to, as Mission Housing Rehabilitation Manager Scott Shaw explains, “assist with housing issues Downeast.”
The five nonprofits agreed to turn $400K into forty $10K housing grants, with $100K reserved for administering the Housing Barrier Removal Fund.
Scott Shaw was part of the selection committee grading grant applications. He said, “Clients who received the down payment assistance were required to meet with financial coach Joe Connors through Downeast Community Partners.” Mano En Mano held the funds and hired Elan Gabel-Richards to facilitate the process.
Grant application responses were graded in three areas:
- Feasibility – How likely is the applicant to reach their goal in one year?
- Impact – How does reaching the goal impact the lives of the people affected? How many people will be affected?
- Leverage – How much are other resources leveraged to reach the applicant’s goal?
All forty grants were awarded in three rounds. Ten grants were awarded in January, twenty in May, and ten in July. Twenty-four grants were given for down payment assistance, sixteen for home repair projects.
As of September 16, five grantees had purchased homes. A sixth grantee is under contract on a piece of land for their mobile home. One home repair project is completed; ten projects are underway.
Awardees have up to a year to expend the funds for their projects.