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Habitat for Humanity poised to build three homes in Plymouth

Calling it a potential first-of-its-kind initiative in Massachusetts, a local nonprofit is poised to build three low-cost homes on a vacant site in Plymouth, with two of them to be set aside for military veterans.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plymouth is finalizing an agreement to acquire the 7.2-acre site off Long Pond Road from the town for a nominal fee. Following completion of the deal, the group plans to begin seeking permits for the work, with the goal of starting construction a year from now, according to its executive director, Jim Middleton.

Middleton said the local Habitat chapter is not aware of a previous project in the state in which a community provided land to a nonprofit to build affordable housing in an all-volunteer effort benefiting local veterans in need.

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“This is really an exciting opportunity for the community and for Habitat,” he said.

The parcel is part of 35 acres that the town acquired for nonpayment of taxes. Town Meeting in 2011 authorized conveying up to 10 acres for affordable or veterans’ housing, with the remainder to be maintained as conservation land.

Last fall, the town sought proposals from nonprofits to develop one affordable home and two veterans’ homes on the parcel. In November, selectmen chose Habitat, the sole bidder, which proposed three affordable homes, two of them for veterans.

Habitat will need to obtain a special permit for the project, according to Lee Hartmann, the town’s director of planning and development.

“We’ve worked with them closely. We’ve worked with the neighbors. We believe they’ve got a very viable project,” he said.

In anticipation of the project, the Greater Plymouth affiliate received certification from Habitat for Humanity International last year to participate in its Veterans Build program, an initiative to provide housing for veterans while engaging them in the process.

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The affiliate has also been working with local veterans’ organizations to identify possible candidates to purchase the two earmarked homes.

Middleton cited one challenge: “There’s a lot of pride among veterans — they don’t want to take a handout. This is not [a] handout, it’s a hand up. It’s something well earned and well deserved, and that the community wants to provide.”

The homes will be priced at $156,000 to $186,000.

Lotteries will be held to select the prospective buyers, who must earn no more than $65,000 a year and must contribute at least 250 hours of “sweat equity” to the construction project.

The local Habitat organization anticipates needing to raise about $300,000 to pay for construction costs.


John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.