Continued, varied efforts may solve the affordable housing problem
Regarding your March 16 "Housing fix" Editorial, two points and a perspective, if I may:
1) In the same issue of the N.Y. Times Magazine from which you cite an economic theorist, there was an article about a private developer's efforts in Maryland to create mixed-income communities indistinguishable from market rate developments through the use of inclusionary zoning. Of the 11,000 units of affordable housing created under these inclusionary zoning ordinances, however, only 3,000 units remain affordable because the resale restrictions were for only 10 years. Sounds similar to the 130-plus units of housing that have been created over the past 25 years on the Vineyard - other than 20-plus permanently restricted units, the sun will set on most resale restrictions in the next 10 to 15 years, and the houses are likely to be sold to second homebuyers at market rates. Why? Because they didn't have the "crippling concessions" (affordability restrictions) that concern you. Without these, we can make no progress.
2) You point to zoning regulations as the cause of the affordable housing crisis. While there are undoubtedly additional zoning tools that would be useful, many changes have already been implemented in our Island towns, and much of what is needed is already in place. It's not land use regulations that plague us; it's lawsuits which have been initiated to appeal housing approved under current zoning.
Just as the need for housing that is affordable wasn't created in a day nor the result of one cause, neither will the meeting of this challenge be accomplished overnight nor solved by one approach.
Perhaps you are correct when you say "even the astonishing willingness of taxpayers and private donors to contribute cash and land will not overcome the deficit...." But, thanks to the creative, concerted and cooperative efforts of private donors, taxpayers, housing professionals, elected officials, businesses, volunteers, neighbors and friends, awareness is prevalent and progress is being made.
With these continued efforts and the various forms they need to take (such as the housing bank legislation, a critical component that is currently working its way through the state legislature) and your continued support and facilitation of conversation, perhaps, just maybe, we can continue to turn the tide. We can overcome.
Richard Leonard lives in West Tisbury. He is president of the Martha's Vineyard Co-operative Bank, chairman of the Island Housing Trust, and chairman of the Martha's Vineyard Housing Bank Coalition.