Islands in the mainstream: Affordable housing key to sustainable island populations

Posted 2015-07-27

By Laurie Schreiber / Mainebiz

An influx of new families on Great Cranberry Island promises hope for a sustainable year-round community.

Their move here was made possible by the development of affordable housing in a real estate market that is otherwise outpriced for moderate incomes.

Great Cranberry is one of seven islands that shared a 2010 allotment of $2.7 million earmarked by the state for affordable, energy-efficient new construction, renovation and replacement housing.

The effort was driven by rising housing costs, says Rob Snyder, president of the Rockland-based Island Institute, which was part of a coalition advocating for the fund. Not long before, the Island Institute had urged the state to allocate more funding to preserve Maine’s working waterfront.

“The same pressures driving the loss of working waterfront were driving the loss of affordable workforce housing — rising valuation, and the fact that median family income on an island could afford only a portion of the average price of a home back then,” says Snyder.