From the Lincoln County News, September 2, 2021
To the editor:
We send kudos to Karen and Bruce Bachelder for their amazing efforts to raise money for Stepping Stone Housing, Inc. Theirs has been an inspirational model for community building – one “item” at a time. They’ve hosted monthly tag sales from a garage on Biscay Road. Through back-bending work, they’ve raised almost $60,000 in the past year from the sale of donated goods. Karen posts almost daily what has come in on Facebook’s Marketplace and sells some items on eBay, in addition to the tag sales. Upcoming tag sales are scheduled for Sept. 17 and Oct. 9.
The shortage of affordable housing in Lincoln County is not news. From Bruce and Karen, we’ve learned that almost 60% of renter households here are unable to afford the local median rent ($1,029 in 2020 for a two-bedroom with utilities.) Granted, there are 16 low-income publically-subsidized apartment communities in Lincoln County, but the waiting lists for available units is often years long and not all qualify. Since Stepping Stones receives no government funding, it can react flexibly and quickly to needs.
To help meet the need, Stepping Stones was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 2013. The volunteer group started with purchasing the Blue Haven property in Damariscotta and has since maintained and built new dwellings there, housing now seven adults and four children in six individual small homes.
The property at No. 53 Biscay Road now houses one adult and soon will have the capacity for at least four more residents. There are two other properties (in Bremen and Bristol) being rented to two adults and three children. A local woman just donated a tiny house she no longer needed, and it will be set up on the Biscay Road property. All residents pay rent for their units on a sliding scale, limited to 30% of their income. Most of the tenants of working age, and not disabled, are working at least part time, often two or more jobs and close to minimum wage.
As Bruce reminded us, “When people don’t have stable housing it impacts all facets of life, including employment and healthcare.”
Providing affordable and safe housing for 17 local adults and children is a major accomplishment for a small group of dedicated volunteers. Karen and Bruce typify that group, raising money the hard way; daily pickups and delivery of large and small items, hosting and organizing monthly tag sales.
We can help them by donating cash, and/or unneeded household items, and volunteering our time to help. Contact Karen at 380-7058 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. When asked what the greatest help would be, both Karen and Bruce said, “young, strong under-60 folks with trucks!”
Mary and Bill Bausch