MPBN: Penobscot Nation helping tribal members get homes
"Until last year, Jason and Jessica Sockbeson were raising their three small children in an apartment in Bangor. Jason was finishing his associates degree and working full-time for a utility company, and Jessica worked nights. They weren't sure they'd ever become homeowners, until they heard about a development in Jason's home community of Indian Island.

"It's like low-cost, affordable housing for us, for a young family," Jason Sockbeson says. "We're both 25 years old and we moved up here from Bangor, living in an apartment in Bangor and our mortgage now is actually less than we were paying for rent in Bangor."

The Sockbeson's new four-bedroom house is modest but modern. It even has a solar panel on the roof. "The energy efficiency of the house, too, helps with the bills and stuff," he says. "There's solar panels on top of the house that you can see and that helps with the hot water. And there's, like, radiant heat. My understanding was that houses were engineered, they weren't just designed, they were engineered in order to be energy efficient. So like all the windows, it came fully furnished with all the appliances, everything was just geared towards making it energy efficient."

The home is part of a subdivision where each home costs between $175,000 and $200,000 to build. Subsidies from the Penobscot Indian Nation and grants from the federal stimulus package allowed the homes to be sold to families like the Sockbesons for about $125,000, at an interest rate of about 4 percent.

"Prior to 1980, there's never been a mortgage on the island at all -- only a tribal person could own land. It prevented banks from lending money because in the event of a foreclosure they couldn't get at the property," says Penobscot Nation Housing Director Craig Sanborn."

Get the Story:
Program Boosts Home Ownership among Maine's Tribal Members (Maine Public Broadcasting Network 6/9)
Indian Island Family Enjoying Energy Efficient Home (WABI-TV 6/9)