Community Concepts Inc. awarded more than $1 million for home construction programs





USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel announced that Community Concepts Inc. has been awarded a grant of slightly more than $1 million to help families in southern and western Maine build their own homes.

The $1,010,000 will be made available through the newly created Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance Grant program.  “This innovative USDA Rural Development Program supports local families in their dreams of homeownership,” Manuel said in announcing the grant program.

While spending months working to build their own homes through hard work, determination and teamwork, they are literally building a stronger foundation for their family’s future through homeownership,” she said.

The new grant program will provide assistance for about 40 new homes for eligible families in Androscoggin, Cumberland, Franklin, Kennebec and Oxford counties. Upon completion of the current building season, an estimated 255 families will have been assisted in homeownership to build their own homes with technical assistance provided by USDA Rural Development and Community Concepts since 1991.

Community Concepts recruits, trains and supervises small groups of families as they build single-family homes in a “homebuilders association.” Together, they provide a minimum of 65 percent of the total labor needed to build the homes. That can can save families as much as $20,000.

Community Concepts CEO Michael Burke said that this is one of the reasons the concept works.This program succeeds through sweat equity,” he said. “Participants from all walks of life — from couples to single parents, from ages 18 to 80 — those who have the dedication and commitment necessary can work to build their own home through this valuable program.”

For more information, contact Sandy Albert, Community Concepts’ associate director of housing and energy, at 739-6560.

Online Home Buyer Education Now Available

HomeQuest is excited to announce the option of online Home Buyer Education Courses.  HomeQuest is offering the course through it’s affiliation with  eHome America.  Now those who are unable to fit the Home Buyer Education course into their busy lifestyle, can still receive their certificate of completion by taking the class online.  The cost is $45 per student, and allows you to take the course at your own pace, whenever and wherever is most convenient for you.  The class takes approximately 8 hours, but once enrolled you may stop and start as many times as needed.  At the completion of the course there is an online test, which once passed you will receive your certificate of completion, just as if you had attended the class in person.  Visit our Home Buyer Education page for more details on the program, or get started online today!

Community Concepts, Inc. Receives $70,500 Grant from NeighborWorks America

Lewiston, Maine  ―  Community Concepts, a member of the national NeighborWorks® network, announced that it received $70,500 in flexible grants from NeighborWorks® America, which will support Community Concepts affordable housing and community development activities in foreclosure and credit counseling, homebuyer education, residential and small business lending, and other community development activities at a time when communities need investment most.

This grant from NeighborWorks America will be used to strengthen our affiliate Community Concepts Finance Corporation who’s work includes foreclosure and credit counseling, homebuyer education, residential and small business lending,” said Michael Burke, President and CEO of Community Concepts.

In 2012, NeighborWorks America will provide nearly $50 million in grants to its national network of more than 230 nonprofit organizations operating in over 4,400 rural, urban, and suburban communities, including Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin Counties in Maine. The grants will be used to revitalize and strengthen communities by providing counseling for homeowners on the brink of foreclosure; increasing the number of certified foreclosure and homeownership counselors through training; stabilizing areas hard-hit by the foreclosure and economic crisis by putting vacant properties back into productive use; empowering consumers through financial and homeownership education and counseling; creating homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income families; and producing and managing affordable, high-quality rental properties.

“In FY 2011 alone, NeighborWorks America and its affiliated NeighborWorks network leveraged nearly $4.2 billion in direct investment―a ratio of $25 for each core funding dollar appropriated, “ said Eileen Fitzgerald, NeighborWorks® America. “As good stewards of taxpayer dollars, NeighborWorks® ensures our investments are working in ways that truly make a difference.”

In 2011Community Concepts  weatherized 564 homes, repaired 171 homes, provided 214 energy audits, loaned over $800,000 to small businesses, managed 155 units of affordable housing, provided Home buyer education to 272 families and assisted 628 households in foreclosure counseling.
Community Concepts is a member of the NeighborWorks network, which was created by NeighborWorks America to improve homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income families, provide financial education and improve financial literacy, rebuild and repair properties; develop affordable multifamily units, and, use innovative strategies to improve safety and revitalize communities across the nation.  Collectively, NeighborWorks America and the NeighborWorks network have been able to:

  • Invest more than $4.0 billion in America’s urban, rural, and suburban communities in fiscal year 2011
  • Create the nation’s largest force of certified homeownership education counselors and foreclosure intervention counselors
  • Provide housing and financial counseling and other assistance to nearly 260,000 families
  • Develop, own and manage over 90,000 affordable, high quality rental units
  • Help more than 13,000 families achieve homeownership
  • Mobilize thousands of volunteers to revitalize communities



For more information about Community Concepts and Community Concepts Finance Corporation please visit our websites:, &
For more information about NeighborWorks America, please contact Douglas Robinson, 202-220-2360,

Homequest Offering Services to Struggling Homeowners

Here in Maine, homeowners who are struggling with mortgage payments have many options. Recently HomeQuest ( was one of several agencies who assisted homeowners apply for the Emergencey Homeowner Loan Program (EHLP). Even with the passing of the deadline to apply for assistance through the EHLP, Homequest has other programs available to assist homeowners.

HomeQuest, a NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center, and an affiliate of Community Concepts, provides foreclosure counseling services for homeowners delinquent or struggling to make mortgage payments. Dennis Lajoie, of Community Concepts says it is important for homeowners to realize they have options, but not wait until it is too late. “Everyone has a different story, every situation is unique. We look at the big picture and recommend a plan based on the individual or family.”

HomeQuest is able to work directly with lenders to negotiate loan modifications, short sales, forbearance and revised payment plans to get homeowners back on track. Beyond foreclosure counseling, HomeQuest also offers Home Buyer Education courses for future home buyers, budget and credit counseling and even mortgage and home improvement loans.

For more information on HomeQuest or to learn more about their services visit or call 1-866-221-4383.

HomeQuest finding a new Home

We are very excited to announce that Community Concepts and Community Concepts Finance Corporation are preparing to move to a new location at:

240 Bates St, Lewiston

Beside being a beautiful new building and swanky offices for us, the brand new facility will become “home” to all of Community Concepts and Community Concepts Finance Corporation’s services, bringing everything we do and offer under one roof for ultimate convenience and ease of use.  Stay tuned for more information on this exciting next chapter for us!

*Please note: our Auburn location will be closed March 17 & 18 to prepare for our move into the new building.  We will be open to the public again, at our new location, on Monday March 21 at 8:00am!

HomeQuest’s ZipMEup Program Won’t Leave You out in the Cold

Does your home energy efficiency leave something to be desired? HomeQuest HomeOwnership Center can help.  By offering guidance, funding and referrals HomeQuest can help you get from A to B in your home heating and energy efficiency needs.

Visit the ZipMEup page on our website to learn more!

Welcome Laurie Winsor: New COO of Community Concepts

Laurie Winsor, Community Concepts' new Chief Operating Officer

South Paris, Maine – We are proud to announce that Laurie Winsor has joined Community Concepts, Inc. in December 2010 and brings 36 years of public sector and non-profit experience to the agency.  Most recently, she served as Marketing & Development Director for Androscoggin Health Care & Hospice.Responsibilities in her new role include development, interpretation and coordination of the agency’s policies concerning all program budgeting, staffing operations and the integration of the individual programs to the whole. She is also responsible for monitoring and directing program activities as they relate to the agency’s mission and goals.

Laurie holds a BFA in Arts degree from Southern Connecticut State University, and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Founded in 1965, Community Concepts, Inc. is a private, non-profit community action organization serving central & western Maine. Its mission is to provide leadership, education and support to build thriving individuals, families and communities. The agency provides a broad spectrum of services to individuals and families, under the guidance of an all-volunteer Board of Directors.

Homes for Rent

Beautiful, 3 Bedroom, Brand New Home on Chickadee Ave in Jay Maine, $800/month

HomeQuest properties are now available for rent, with the first tank of oil for free!

We have brand new ranch style houses available for rent.  All have full basements.  Tenants are responsible for electricity, heat and hot water, and to provide their own snow clearing and lawn care, however we will provide the first tank of oil for free! New stove and refrigerator will be provided and the houses have washer/dryer hookups. These will be month to month leases as they are all currently listed for sale. Security Deposit equal to one month’s rent and a minimum of three years of good rental history with references is required.

Properties available for rent include:

Lot 2 Deerfield Lane, Farmington – 2 Bedroom – $800 per month

144 Ralph Richardson Road, Norway – 3 Bedroom – $800 per month

128 Ralph Richardson Road, Norway – 3 Bedroom – $800 per month

Lot 16a Poplar Hill Road, Mexico – 3 Bedroom – $750 per month

10 Chickadee Ave, Jay – 3 Bedroom – $800 per month

For more information or an application please call Sally at 739-6559.

Community Concepts Finance Corp. and Norway Savings Bank Announce Loan Program Partnership

From left to right: Steve Whitney, SVP Risk Management - Norway Savings Bank, Juanita Smith, SVP Retail Loan Sales & CRA Officer - Norway Savings Bank and Dennis Lajoie, Director of Real Estate - HomeQuest

NORWAY, MaineNorway Savings Bank and Community Concepts Finance Corporation, a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), an affiliate of Community Concepts, Inc. have announced a partnership in which Norway Savings Bank will provide $400,000 annually to Community Concepts to provide loans to low and moderate income home buyers, businesses and other borrowers who are eligible to borrow from a Community Development Financial Institution.

“We are very pleased that Norway Savings Bank will be providing an ongoing source of financing for Community Concepts Finance Corporation in order for us to provide much needed capital to those looking to start or expand a business, improve their home or buy a home,” said Dennis Lajoie, Director of Community Concepts Finance Corporation.

“As a community bank, we are committed to reinvesting in our local communities,” explained Juanita Smith, Senior Vice President, Retail Loan Sales & CRA Officer with Norway Savings Bank. “We have developed a strong partnership with Community Concepts over the years because their mission is in alignment with the mission and values of Norway Savings.  We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with such a great organization to help it meet the needs of individuals, families and businesses in our communities.”

Since 1965, Community Concepts, Inc. has offered a variety of social services that promote self-sufficiency within the people of the communities of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties of Maine.

HomeQuest’s Ronald Knott Elected Committee Chairman

Ronald Knott, Associate Director of Community Concepts’ HomeQuest division (, has been named Chairman of the NeighborWorks National HomeOwnership Advisory Committee.  Serving primarily Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties, HomeQuest is one of only 100 NeighborWorks HomeOwnership centers in the country.  Knott will lead the committee, composed of about 20 people from NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Centers nationwide.

Knott said the committees’ primary goal is to “help NeighborWorks America meet its strategic plan and goals by helping to build and sustain a national network of homeownership centers. We obtain critical input from each centers management on best practices, internal and external partnership opportunities and insight into emerging market trends and issues.”

HomeOwnership centers like HomeQuest have mortgage funds available to first time homebuyers, as well as current homeowners needing loans for repairs and upgrades.  Resources are also available to provide free, confidential counseling services to those facing the possible loss of their homes due to mortgage delinquency and foreclosure. They provide the State approved homebuyer education classes and assist families to become mortgage ready. Monies are made available through federal, state, and financial institutions or private funds.

Knott will serve a two-year term, helping to identify and satisfy the professional needs and opportunities of NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Centers across the country.  Knott’s Co-Chair is from the HomeOwnership Center of Hawaii.