West Tisbury selectmen on Wednesday, April 3, hosted a lottery sponsored by the Island Housing Trust to select two Island families to purchase a pair of homes off Edgartown-West Tisbury road for $225,000 each.
Spencer Binney and Lizzy Kent, along with Jason and Darcy Neago, were chosen to purchase a pair of three-bedroom, energy-efficient homes designed and built by South Mountain Company for the non-profit Island Housing Trust.
Philippe Jordi, executive director of the trust, said the Edgartown National Bank financed the project, and the new homes were also paid for with $150,000 in Community Preservation Act funds approved by voters.
Kristian Strom donated the land on which the homes were built, he said.
The selection process gave preference to larger families and those that either lived or worked in West Tisbury. Families or individuals who earned between $47,200 and $67,450 were eligible.
Mr. Binney and Ms. Kent attended with their baby daughter, Willow, and Mr. and Mrs. Neago attended with their young sons, Tristan and Griffin, who will now be neighbors after they move into their new homes.
Mr. Jordi reflected on the continued lack of affordable housing opportunities for young families on the Island. This was evidenced by the fact that only a small number of applicants were eligible to enter the lottery for the two homes.
“The reality is for a lot of low and moderate income families on the Island who are struggling to find a home to live in, I think in many ways it’s getting more difficult,” he said. “We have seen it firsthand when over half of those who wanted to apply for this opportunity weren’t able to because of their inability to secure mortgage financing or because of credit issues or lack of income or down payment.”
But this was a happy day for the two families who were given the opportunity to purchase the two affordable homes. There were lots of laughs and smiles — and even a few tears.
As Mr. Binney was leaving the selectmen’s meeting room, somebody asked him where he is living now. “We’re on West Chop in a nice year-round rental but it got real small, real fast,” he said as he walked with his two young children.
In other news, selectmen unanimously approved the transfer of ownership of Lighthouse Taxi from previous owner Nicholas Catt to new owner Antoniya Sabeza, a longtime driver for Stagecoach Taxi.
Mr. Catt, who owns the Airport Laundromat, said he bought the company two years ago with partner Josh Tucker. Mr. Catt was not involved with the day-to-day operations of the company and felt the change in ownership was in order.
“Josh has a child and several jobs, and I myself have several jobs as well. I would like to see it do better than it has in terms of attention. The most valid person who came to our doorstep was Antoniya,” Mr. Catt said.
Selectmen approved the transfer despite concerns from Benoit Baldwin, the new owner of Alpha Taxi (previously Mario’s Taxi).
Selectman Richard Knabel said that the town taxi regulations outlines a process for adjudicating complaints and to his knowledge the town had not received one complaint against the company.
Selectmen approved the transfer of the company. Lighthouse Taxi will be operated to operate four taxicabs.