NORWAY — On May 22, Norway Equitable Housing Cooperative will host an informational session on its plans to bring affordable housing options to Oxford Hills at the Norway Memorial Library on Wednesday, May 22, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

In the works for three years, the cooperative is ready to develop its first housing project at 33-35 Whitman St., a half-acre lot that housed the the Everett homestead and carriage shop.

NEHC purchased the property one year ago for $70,000 after receiving a substantial anonymous donation to propel its plans forward.

Next, the organization tackled the conditions of their new asset: after a century-and-a-half of industrial use that included use of paints and asbestos building materials the structures had to be removed and the site remediated. The razing was done earlier this year.

Scott Vlaun, left, executive director for The Center of an Ecology-Based Economy, Thea Hart, coordinator for the Norway Equitable Housing Cooperative, and Mike Newsom, president of the CEBE board, celebrate one year ago the acquisition of property at 33-35 Whitman St. to establish resident-owned cooperative housing. Supplied photo

Now NEHC’s stakeholders are inviting the community to participate in the next round of work: establish affordable and equitable housing in town.

“Affordable, safe, energy-efficient housing is a critical need in our community,” says Thea Hart, who leads the working group, established in 2021 by The Center for an Ecology-Based Economy. “We are a small group of local renters and volunteers who have come together around a mission to create equitable, regenerative, cooperative housing in Norway downtown.”

NEHC is targeting MaineHousing’s Rural Affordable Housing Rental Program to help fund the project.

It is the same pilot program that will help convert the long-vacant Odd Fellows building on Main Street in Norway into a combination of affordable housing and commercial space and could be tapped to redevelop the old Thompson Woolen Mill on King Street in Oxford into 77 affordable senior rental units.

“We welcome the community’s support of our effort to add 18 units of affordable, resident-owned, net zero housing units to our historic downtown,” Hart said in an email statement. “Which is also in support of workers and area businesses.”

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