The Island Housing Trust expanded in 2012 creating affordable housing

The May 2012 Lake Street house warming included homeowners and IHT officals. Left to right: Marc Schoenfeld, Tara Edge, Richard Jacobs, Richard Leonard, IHT president,Philippe Jordi, director, Liz Loucks, Amy Nevin and her three daughters. — Photo courtesy of Island Housing Trust

The profile of one of Martha’s Vineyard’s most successful affordable housing organizations, the Island Housing Trust (IHT), has continued to grow, according to their recently released 2012 annual report. The growth is due in part to the substantial donation of a Vineyard Haven house by Cronig’s Market owner Steve Bernier.

Income and assets are up substantially for the year and the trust recently received certification as a community development corporation (CDC) from the state Department of Housing and Community Development which will allow donors to IHT to receive substantial state tax credits.

The Trust helped develop the four rental units at the Sepiessa Point Apartments in West Tisbury which are owned and managed by the Dukes County Housing Authority. The Trust plans to break ground on three more units there in the fall.

The IHT also owns and rents two affordable rental units and contracts for property management services for those units on Halcyon Way in West Tisbury, Mr. Jordi said.

The group works with other Island affordable housing projects like Habitat for Humanity by managing the properties’ affordability restrictions through long-term ground leases.

The IHT property and programs are funded in part by private and public sources. The IHT is governed by a board of directors consisting of representatives from each of the six Island towns and the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, the community-at-large, and homeowners that lease land from the IHT.

Assets doubled

The total assets of the IHT doubled over the course of 2012, according to their annual report for the year ending December 31, 2012, from almost $1.6 million in 2011 to $3.2 million. The dramatic increase was the result of $187,845 in multi-year pledges, a one-time $500,000 pledge, the donated Water Street property valued at $700,000 from Mr. Bernier, and the sale of four townhouses at 129 Lake Street in Vineyard Haven and two single-family houses at 619 Edgartown Road in West Tisbury produced $150,428.

Revenues from grants and contributions in 2012 were offset, in large part, by the cost of development projects, according to Mr. Jordi. An additional two affordable townhouses at the Lake Street property and two more single family houses at 619 Edgartown Road are scheduled to be completed and sold in May, he said, and are listed as part of the investment in housing project inventory of $261,053.

Ground lease fees generated revenues of $25,300 in 2011 and $28,400 in 2012. These fees were used to defray a portion of the IHT’s costs for management and stewardship of the 43 ground leased properties in 2011 and the 48 ground lease properties in 2012 in the towns of Aquinnah, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and West Tisbury. The value of the ground-leased land was approximately $1.18 million.

The IHT reported total fixed assets of $156,582 at the end of 2012, including the Halcyon Way rental property and office equipment located at the Vineyard Housing Office in Tisbury.

Program and administrative expenses were up for the year, from $181,000 in 2011 to $260,000 in 2012.

The Island Housing Trust recently received certification as a community development corporation (CDC) from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. CDCs are non-profit, community-based organizations that anchor capital locally through the development of residential and/or commercial property, ranging from affordable housing to local businesses.

“We’re excited about the possibility of local businesses and Island residents personally investing in the Trust through this state tax credit program that we’ll be applying for later this year,” said Richard Leonard, president of the board of IHT in a press release.

In an email to the Times, IHT treasurer Dan Seidman announced a record year for the organization, thanks to growing public and private support. He pointed out that the success is due in part to the Trust’s strong partnerships with the Island towns and banks, the Land Bank, Habitat for Humanity of Martha’s Vineyard, and the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, as well as a new collaboration with the Island Grown Initiative to develop farmworker housing at their recently acquired Thimble Farm property.

In addition to plans for Lake Street and the West Tisbury-Edgartown Road projects and affordable housing at Thimble Farm, and the three new units Sepiessa in West Tisbury the Trust will be working on the initial plans and design work for the Water Street property in 2013.

The Times reported in May 2012 that Mr. Bernier purchased the Water Street house to thwart expansion plans of his chief competitor, Stop & Shop. He then donated it to IHT. Mr. Jordi said IHT plans to turn that donation into four affordable apartments.