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April 11, 2018

Rockport voters to decide on zoning for tiny homes

Rockport voters in June will vote on land use zoning amendments that could allow for the construction of tiny homes to alleviate the housing shortage.

The PenBay Pilot reported that Hospitality House, which is the Knox County Homeless Coalition's family shelter, and Midcoast Habitat for Humanity have expressed interest in building 190-square-foot structures on the 5.6-acre campus of Hospitality House in Rockport. To be called Tiny Havens of Hope, they would have a bedroom and a bathroom, but no kitchen. Their purpose is to provide additional transitional space at Hospitality House.

"The name of our proposed additional shelter capacity — 'havens of hope' — captures the essence of the Habitat for Humanity and Homeless Coalition purpose," Homeless Coalition Executive Director Stephanie Primm told the newspaper. The idea of building the Tiny Havens grew from prototype to plan last year, when Hospitality House collaborated with Habitat for Humanity to build its first $15,000 shelter. Architects and landscape engineers have created a site plan. The homes will be served by a common kitchen elsewhere on the campus.

The tiny houses could help alleviate a shortage of housing for the area workforce. The emphasis is not so much on the need for "tiny" houses but just on providing a diverse, affordable range of housing. In a number of municipalities in Maine, local ordinances do not clearly spell out whether this sort of housing would be allowed.

Hospitality House, which is located on Old County Road in Rockport, has a maximum capacity of 23, but also utilizes campgrounds and hotel rooms from time to time in life-threatening scenarios of abuse or weather. The organization can only shelter 5% to 10% of its active caseload.

In 2017, the Bangor Daily News reported region has a growing homeless population of 150 and 225 at any given time, without an emergency homeless shelter and just one family shelter.

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