A partnership for housing


To the Editor:

This past month four Island families were awarded the dream of affordable homeownership in Tisbury on Lambert’s Cove Road. This milestone was reached after nearly five years of tireless work by the Tisbury affordable housing committee which secured a “friendly” 40B comprehensive permit for a town-owned parcel of land. Through a public procurement process, the permitted land was transferred to the nonprofit Island Housing Trust, in order to build four homes and ground lease the land with long-term affordability restrictions.

Tisbury has put a priority on promoting homeownership and rental housing for hard working families with modest means, while placing a fiscal priority on protecting the town’s investment in affordable housing. This successful project, which came in under budget and ahead of schedule, serves as a model for future housing efforts and public/nonprofit partnerships in Tisbury and Island-wide.

• Locally Driven Process — At the heart of the Lambert’s Cove Road project were the combined efforts of many, led by the Tisbury affordable housing committee with the generous support of the community preservation committee, zoning board of appeals, Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, and town voters. Using a “friendly” state 40B comprehensive permit, the town was able to cluster four homes on a three-acre parcel not generally permitted under local zoning. This state affordable housing law, which has been used to create the great majority of affordable housing in Tisbury and across the Island, is under threat of being repealed through a statewide ballot initiative this fall. Please vote no on ballot question number two on November.

• Local Control — After selecting the Island Housing Trust to build these homes and ground-lease the land with long-term affordability restrictions, the Tisbury selectmen entered into a regulatory agreement with the Island Housing Trust to ensure that the town’s investment and interests are protected throughout the development, homebuyer selection, and long-term stewardship of these homes.

• Long-term Affordability — Gino Mazzaferro, whose Vineyard Haven construction firm, ICMC, was selected through an advertised bidding process administered by the Island Housing Trust, built all four homes for a competitive price that included many local material supplier and subcontractor discounts. These homes are modest in size, well built, and meet high-energy efficiency (Energy Star Plus) and performance standards that will keep them affordable to own and maintain for generations. Project savings were used by the Island Housing Trust to further reduce the sale prices of two of the homes in response to the greater need for affordable housing at the low and moderate-income levels.

• Ongoing Stewardship — After selling these four homes, the Island Housing Trust will continue to work over the long-term to ensure that homeowners and homeowner associations are financially responsible, keep up the property, and protect the public’s investment. These homeowners have an opportunity to build their equity and in return keep these homes affordable for the next generation of buyers by passing along the public’s investment when selling their homes.

Through this town/non-profit partnership and hands-on approach to achieving long-term affordable homeownership, Tisbury and the Island Housing Trust are helping create community stability by allowing more hard working residents to buy homes today, maintain them, and keep them affordable for the future generations.

Jeffrey S. Kristal, Chairman

Tristan R. Israel, Clerk

Geoghan E. Coogan

Tisbury Selectmen