News Feature

Isle au Haut
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, January 30, 2020
Seasonal home to become year-round rental on Isle au Haut

by Molly Siegel, Island Institute

The Isle au Haut Community Development Corporation recently closed on the purchase of a three-bedroom home, making it the fourth home in ICDC’s rental stock. The island nonprofit, which works to sustain the year-round population through housing and economic development, is hoping to rent the home as soon as this summer, after completing necessary improvements. The house, located on the east side of Isle au Haut just over two miles from the town landing, comes with a car and will be rented for between $850 and $900 per month.

ICDC purchased the home from a long-time seasonal resident who was selling his home and wanted to contribute to the year-round housing stock. “Bob Gerber has made this acquisition possible through generous seller financing of the property while the ICDC raises funds over the next few years to reduce carrying costs of this property and allow it to be rented at an affordable rate,” said Nick Filler, chairman of the ICDC board.

“It is a wonderful house for a small family, a couple or a single person,” said Peggi Stevens, Isle au Haut’s first selectman. “It will be easy to heat in the winter. It is fairly near to the village. One can bike or walk to town easily and it is equally close to the pond. It’s a great little house and I think a good purchase for the ICDC.”

Housing has been a long-time issue on Isle au Haut. An island working group last year determined that more year-round rentals were needed to fill the island’s workforce housing needs. Of 138 houses on the island, only 31 are in year-round use and it is rare for a year-round house to be put on the market. Those that do go up for sale are often out of reach for most year-round residents. Those looking to self-build face extra labor and transportation costs that make self-construction unattainable.

With around 50 year-round residents, Isle au Haut is among the smallest island communities in Maine. Residents face constant worry that the population could become too small to support critical infrastructure such as the one-room school and the Isle au Haut Electric Power Company. The purchase of the house, said Filler, “will assure us of opportunities to attract and maintain year around residents who contribute so much to the community and spirit of the Island.”