Pablo and Kendall Espinosa had a better situation than many who want to live in Knox County: they had found an affordable rental house on a small farm suitable for their family. Still, there was something that Pablo knew he wanted to do one day: build a home of his own. Pablo had some experience with building in his home country of Ecuador, where he worked on building projects in which his sister was the architect.

When an affordable house lot in Camden became available, Pablo seized the opportunity. He had always been a saver, so he had enough in savings to buy the land as a first step in making the dream for his family’s home come true. He used the 4:1 matched savings of a Family Development Account (FDA) through New Ventures Maine to accumulate $10,000 towards his costs.

On Thursday, Sept. 29, Camden Public Library will host a forum on how to afford a home in the Midcoast.

Pablo was finishing his degree in Mental Health and Human Services at University College at Rockland at the time he and Kendall began construction on their property. It was not an easy thing to secure a construction loan, as banks have seen many borrow and then not complete their homes, Pablo stated. Many would-be homeowners have seen houses go up quickly on home TV shows, and do not realize the thousands of hours it takes to complete a construction project, or how easy it is to go over budget with the addition of high-end finishing touches. After running the numbers to calculate the costs of construction and then securing a bank construction loan, Pablo and Kendall set their goals for the stages of construction, and began in the spring of 2015.

Pablo has another perspective on housing from his work as a case manager with the Knox County Homeless Coalition. He says of the staff, “We’ve noticed there’s a ‘perfect storm’ in this area. With few people buying houses, there’s more competition for renters. Landlords can shop for the ‘perfect’ tenant, and there seems to be a fixed price for each size with apartment rentals. “

While there are many advantages to homeownership, Pablo cautions it’s not for everyone: you need to be sure you are in a stable situation first. Pablo and Kendall’s family moved into their new home on Valentine’s Day of 2016. What a sweet ending to their dream!

Those who are ready to make a move to their own home or to find out what it takes to become a homeowner in the Midcoast are invited to the forum, which is from 6 to 8 p.m.

A panel of experts will give an overview of readiness for homeownership, and programs that can help low to moderate-income families and individuals to purchase or build their own home.

The panel of speakers will be informative on many aspects of affordability, from financing to seeking alternative ways to afford housing in the Midcoast. The presentation will also include the stories of two local residents who have made their dreams of homeownership come true and the means they used to achieve their goal.

The speakers will include Tia Anderson, executive director of Midcoast Habitat for Humanity; Heather Massow, Homebuyer Educator with MaineStream Finance; Michelle White on Mortgages and Homeownership, Maine Housing; and Melinda Wildes, New Ventures Maine, speaking on Family Development Accounts, which offers 4:1 match savings for a down payment. There will be plenty of time for Q&A and discussion with the speakers.