Indian Island Family Enjoying Energy Efficient Home 

An Indian Island family can now call themselves homeowners thanks to the help of the USDA. Jason and Jessica Sockbeson and their three children have lived in this new home for a little more than a year now. It’s the first home made possible through a new federally funded one stop mortgage program. The family moved here after living in a small Bangor apartment. “The opportunity came up to purchase this home and we jumped on it,” says Jason Sockbeson, “we feel really lucky and blessed. We’re actually paying less for our mortgage now than we were for our apartment.” The program allows the USDA and the Penobscot Nation to team up to help tribal families realize their dreams of owning their own home. Virginia Manuel is the state director for the USDA Rural Development. “It’s wonderful to really see the first of its kind, these one stop mortgages, which allows individual home ownership within the indian tribes across the state,” she says.”Applicants for the one stop mortgages still have to meet certain qualifications. “The key thing is you have to demonstrate the ability to repay the loan,” says Manuel, “that’s the criteria and you also have to meet a certain credit score.” Tribal leaders say these types of opportunities are allowing their community to grow. “We’ve created 36 new housing opportunities in three years and thats really built a lot of strength within our community,” says Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis.All the houses in this subdivision are energy efficient. They come with solar panels for hot water, radiant heating, and energy efficient appliances. Add it all up and the sockebeson’s say their energy bill has been cut in half. “We’ve been living up here since last march and we’ve used a tank and a half of oil, less than 1000 gallons,” says Sockbeson.The Sockbeson’s say they plan to call this home for a very long time.