Maine Sea Grant partners with the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast to host design workshops or “charrettes” that help coastal communities envision how to provide homes for people who work in town – people who earn an average income, like entry level teachers, fire fighters, police, as well as hospital and retail workers. These are people who are often priced out of homes in coastal communities due to the high real estate costs there. And as a result, these people who work in our coastal towns, often can’t afford to live in those same coastal towns. Here’s a reality check on the issue.
To help communities create their vision for how to meet this need for “workforce housing”, The Coalition and Maine Sea Grant recruit a team of housing professionals. The team includes architects, landscape designers, planners, developers, bankers, and real estate agents who talk with property owners and community members to understand their needs, interests, and concerns related to development in their neighborhood.
With the community’s vision in mind then, the miracle of teamwork begins. For an incredibility intense six hours, this diverse team brainstorms to graphically capture the community’s vision, as markers fly, rulers stretch, and calculators buzz. When work starts at 9 am, it seems completely implausible, if not totally impossible, that the goal will be reached. But invariably, the clock ticks down toward the 3 pm deadline, and amazingly - beautiful, and creative, yet feasible designs emerge and are posted on walls for the community to view and review.
In October, Wells, Maine was the host community for the Coalition’s 2013 charrette. And in 2011, Kittery, Maine was the community host and now two years later, an interested developer is working with the charrette designs to guide development there.
Photo above: Designs are posted by the charrette team, as community members start to filter in for the presentations to “reveal” the designs.