The Architectural Team / Aceto Landscape Architecture

A Maine-based nonprofit that is creating innovative affordable living options for adults with disabilities has been awarded $509,000 in federal funding to design assistive “smart-home” technology for disabled residents at a development it plans to build in Scarborough.

This project was advanced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) in the fiscal 2023 omnibus appropriations package signed into law last month.

3i HoME will use the funds 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, said officials.

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.

The organization is co-developing the project with national nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH).

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 universal design principles 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.

The development team cites recent statistics that find 8% of Maine residents between 18 and 64 years old have a mobility disability that impacts their daily lives.

“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 and emergency room visits, and improve productivity and overall health and well-being.”

Boston-based POAH is a prominent affordable housing development and owner with 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 one, two-, and three-bedroom units will range from $1,200 to $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.