To the Editor:
The administration of a social media group called “MV Home Solutions” recently fell into my hands. Originally, the page was framed as a dialogue about lack of affordable housing on the Vineyard, but what it really needs is a solution. The problem is: Why is Island housing so difficult to find?
I created a spreadsheet that people being displaced could edit live, adding their contact information as well as rental preferences so that we might — at the least — get an idea of how many residents were having trouble finding housing. I’ll give you a hint at the number — it’s too many. And the people on the list are as varied as the Island community. In the next few weeks, almost a dozen families are being displaced; kids out of college are finding nowhere to go; elderly people and adults are stumbling over the housing deficiency.
After conducting this informal survey, I felt frustrated that I wasn’t a homeowner, because it made me feel like I couldn’t help. But there are people on Island who do own homes — people who, hopefully, see this letter and will consider renting out an empty bedroom.
First off, renting doesn’t just benefit people who are displaced. On Island, people who rent out a room — a single room — make $500–$1,000 per month during the summer season. This is a pretty big incentive for you, your neighbor, or your elderly parents to rent out any and all extra bedrooms. I know that displaced families can’t find a solution just by homeowners renting an extra room, but it’s possible that if Island homeowners rent out more single rooms, a family will be able to rent a house or apartment that might otherwise be taken by several single tenants. And for every room available, supply goes up — causing demand to go down and rentals to lower to more affordable prices.
I’m what you’d call home secure. I’m not an Islander displaced by “the Vineyard shuffle” or for any other reason. Regardless, it feels bad to know that people and families on the Island are living in daily fear of having nowhere to go. If you have an extra room, please consider renting it out. Help your Island community! You could make a difference in someone’s life.