Affordable houses + solar energy = solution
The Island Housing Trust, Island Affordable Housing Fund, and Habitat for Humanity for Martha's Vineyard are set to break ground tomorrow on a new nine-home affordable housing development at 250 State Road in West Tisbury. If all goes according to schedule, nine local families will move in by Memorial Day of 2011. The development will be called Eliakim's Way, after Eliakim Norton, a prominent citizen of Martha's Vineyard who owned the land in the 1700s.
The homes will be clustered on an eight-acre parcel, subdivided from a 20-acre parcel the Trust recently purchased in partnership with the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank. Traveling up-Island, the parcel is located just before Nip-N-Tuck Farm.
The entire budget for the project is $3.4 million, which will include $630,000 in donations from individuals and private foundations raised by the Housing Fund. This week, the Fund had in hand commitments for $531,000 of the total needed. "I just picked up $3,000 on the boat ride over," said Patrick Manning, executive director of the Housing Fund, as he returned from a recent off-Island trip.
Voters in West Tisbury last year authorized $400,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for the project. They will decide whether to authorize an additional $170,000 at the annual town meeting on April 14. Phillipe Jordi, executive director of the Island Housing Trust, says if the additional money is approved, the sale price of two more homes can be reduced, and West Tisbury families will get preference for six of the homes. As it stands now, West Tisbury residents will get preference for four homes, when they are awarded through a lottery according to income.
The South Mountain Company will build eight of the farmhouse cape style houses. As the project financing stands now, the two and three bedroom homes will be sold at prices ranging from $170,000 to $330,000. The ninth home will be built by Habitat for Humanity. Habitat will soon select the family who will help build and then buy the home. That family's income will fall within a range of 30 percent to 80 percent of the area median income. "We try to make it at cost," said Julie Willett, executive director of Habitat, which also finances the mortgage. "There's no profit, in the mortgage. It's a zero percent mortgage."
When shovels turn over the first spades of dirt tomorrow, the project will break ground in several ways.
Each of the nine homes will be powered by the sun. Combined with energy efficient building techniques, rooftop solar panels are projected to generate enough power to entirely heat, cool, light, and run all appliances for each home. Not a single watt of power generated elsewhere from a coal or nuclear plant will need to be transported to the site over wires. The solar power systems will be funded by a $492,000 grant from the Cape Light Compact, which distributes money collected from a surcharge on electricity bills.