Island Housing Trust scores major state grant

Scott’s Grove affordable apartments set to begin construction in the fall.

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A rendering of planned development at Scott's Grove. — Island Housing Trust

updated August 30, 12:30 pm

The Island Housing Trust (IHT) has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the Massachusetts Community Scale Housing Initiative, a pilot program under the aegis of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) designed specifically for rural developments of 20 units or less.

The grant is the final piece of financing needed to fund Scott’s Grove, a $3 million, nine-unit affordable housing development in West Tisbury, located near the old West Tisbury fire station on Edgartown–West Tisbury Road. “All systems are go for Scott’s Grove,” IHT executive director Philippe Jordi told The Times on Monday. “We initially applied for a regular funding round, and after we submitted the application, the [DHCD] announced this new program and we were successful in getting our application moved. We hope the program will continue, because it really would serve the Island well in the future.”

In addition to the DHCD grant, Scott’s Grove will be funded by $575,000 in bank financing, $1.4 million in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds, and more than $125,000 in private donations.

Construction is slated to begin in October. Williams Building Company of West Yarmouth — contractors for affordable housing at 6 Lake Street in Tisbury and Morgan Woods in Edgartown — will be the contractors for Scott’s Grove.

“We always have a preference for local contractors but it’s a qualification-based bid process; we don’t necessarily pick the lowest bidder but we pick the lowest, most qualified bidder,” Mr. Jordi said. “They came in very close to what we had estimated.”

The only outstanding permit is from the Department of Environmental Protection, for the water supply system. “That won’t hold us back as far as the construction goes,” Mr. Jordi said.

Scott’s Grove is named after Susan Scott, who donated the 2.8 parcel of land to the town of West Tisbury.

Mr. Jordi gave kudos to the town of West Tisbury for providing $1.4 million of CPA funding, and for offering a 51-year ground lease on the land.

“The help we got from the town West Tisbury and from private donations really helped us compete for these funds,” he said. “It’s really because of that backing that we were successful. It’s important to us that we show our towns and we show our donors that their investment is leveraging these significant state funds.”

Scott’s Grove will have three one-bedroom units, three two-bedroom units, and three three-bedroom units. Apartments will be rented to Island residents of low and moderate income — at or below 50 percent Area Median Income (AMI) and at or below 80 percent AMI.

For a household of two people, 80 percent AMI is $54,400 per year. 50 percent AMI for a household of two is $34,800 per year.

Income requirements are dictated by various funding sources. CPA funding is earmarked for 100 percent AMI or less. “There’s more consideration for lower incomes with state funding,” Mr. Jordi said. “We’re also looking at the need. The [Martha’s Vineyard Commission] Housing Assessment and the housing production plan [HPP] both specified the greatest need is rentals at lower incomes. So it’s a combination of where there’s the greatest need and what the funding is going to prioritize.”

Mr. Jordi acknowledged that year-round rentals are difficult for higher-income levels as well. “We’re looking at projects now that could include 100 percent AMI, which we consider workforce housing. Yes, there are people at higher incomes that want and need housing, but we know from Morgan Woods that during the recession, they had a hard time filling those units too. We’re still talking about rents that are between $700 and $1,500. A one-bedroom at 50 percent AMI is $746, and a three-bedroom at 80 percent is $1,550. Over 100 percent [AMI], you can be talking about $2,000-plus for a month’s rent. So then you start competing against what’s out there, even though it’s very limited.”

Mr. Jordi said the predominant income levels on the waiting list for apartments managed by the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority are 80 percent AMI and 60 percent AMI or less.

 

Updated with Mr. Jordi’s comments on AMI levels.