Island Housing Trust touts growth and new development

Tisbury's new affordable housing development on Wentworth Way features a neighborhood of townhouses nestled among trees. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Island Housing Trust reported gains in net assets and increased revenue from ground leases and private donations in its 2011 annual report, which was issued last week.

The nonprofit Trust’s stated mission is to develop affordable homes to bridge the gap between high property values and the low and moderate income families who live and work on Martha’s Vineyard.

The report, available at, said the organization’s finances reflect a move toward self-sufficiency and a diverse revenue base.

“The Island Housing Trust’s net assets (total assets minus liabilities) have shown positive growth of over $1.3 million, or nearly 12 percent over the past year,” treasurer Paul Moreau wrote for the board of directors. “The Island Housing Trust’s statement of activities shows strength in diverse revenue sources over the past year, including project grants from public sources being leveraged by private donations totaling 77 percent of revenues, and a steady growth in revenues from ground lease fees from a portfolio of 43 properties.”

The Trust most often retains ownership of the land when it builds an affordable housing unit, and it charges a small lease fee. As more properties are built, its income rises.

Ground lease fees and rents increased to $37,474 in 2011, up 21.4 percent over the previous year, according to the annual report. Donations increased to $98,539, an increase of 34 percent in 2011.

The organization got 49 percent of its revenue from public grants, and 28 percent from donations. It got 10 percent of its income from ground leases and rents, and 12 percent from events and other revenue in 2011.

The Trust listed expenses of $232,107 for housing development, mostly for the small amount of actual construction in 2011. It listed $38,955 for property management, up 12.6 percent in 2011. It spent $19,419 for fundraising, up 12.6 percent. The financial statements list $38,838 for administrative expenses, also up 12.6 percent.

Executive director Philippe Jordi earns $82,000 to manage the organization, and his salary is apportioned in each of the expense categories.

Administration accounts for 12 percent of the Trust’s expenses, fundraising took 6 percent, and property management 12 percent. The remaining 70 percent of revenues went into housing development.

The Trust began several projects in 2011. The largest project is a development to be known as Wentworth Way, a neighborhood of six townhouses now under construction on Lake Street in Tisbury. The project is a partnership between the Trust and the town of Tisbury.

The organization has also begun development work on three additional rental apartments at Sepiessa in West Tisbury for the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, but construction on those units has not begun.

Habitat for Humanity is building homes on three parcels of land that were transferred to the Trust from the Town of West Tisbury.

Two families are building homes on land leased by the Trust. One is on Chappaquiddick, the other is in Aquinnah.

“Over the past six years we have helped develop our nationally recognized model of permanently affordable housing and have sold 42 homes to low and moderate income earning families throughout five Island towns,” president Richard Leonard and Mr. Jordi wrote in a joint statement for the annual report. “Our goal is to double the number of safe, stable year-round affordable homes available to Island families by 2015.”