Island Housing Trust grew stronger in 2013

A group of Islanders met Saturday to discuss the lack of year-round rentals. — Photo by Jason Claypool

The major indicators of growth for the Island Housing Trust (IHT), a Martha’s Vineyard nonprofit that builds and manages affordable housing, doubled in 2013, according to its annual report.

“We are really excited,” IHT executive director Philippe Jordi said. “We are in a place where we can do more for the community. Our steady growth allows us to have more relevance creating affordable housing solutions here on the Island.”

Project grants and donations almost doubled between 2012 and 2013 from $552,000 to $1.05 million. Housing development and the number of contributors almost doubled during the same period, while the group’s working capital reserves more than doubled. Total income exceeded expenses by $250,000, with income totaling $1.64 million and expenses $1.39 million.

In 2013, IHT added nine affordable living units to the Island’s housing pool and began projects that will add another 15 rental units for low and very low income residents, six in an existing building that is undergoing renovation on State Road in Vineyard Haven near Crane Appliance, six new units on Water Street, Vineyard Haven, next to the Stop & Shop and three new units at Seppiessa in West Tisbury.

IHT currently manages ground leases for 58 ownership homes on land that they own, and it rents two units.

But far from resting on the group’s success, Mr. Jordi said IHT plans to broaden its base of support. An important element in that effort is IHT’s recent inclusion in the Massachusetts Community Investment Tax Credits (CITC) program that provides a 50 percent tax credit for taxpayers who make donations to IHT of $1,000 or more, he said.

IHT’s community investment campaign received $110,000 in state tax credits for the current year. “This is a state project funded for the next six years. We hope to be able to offer these tax savings for as long as the program is in operation,” Mr. Jordi said.

He pointed out that an additional federal tax deduction can help donors realize a total tax benefit of nearly 70 percent. “People can essentially double their money through these tax credits — individuals, businesses, even nonprofits. People or organizations with no tax liability can actually receive a refund from the state,” he said.

Mr. Jordi said the main goals for IHT in 2014 are increasing public awareness and support for affordable housing initiatives, increasing the number of their Island affordable units from 60 to 100 over the next three years, and ensuring the ongoing management of the group’s projects. Mr. Jordi said that one of their future projects involves working with another Island nonprofit, the Island Grown Initiative (IGI), a group focused on sustainable agriculture, to build worker housing on IGI’s 41-acre property, the former Thimble Farm in Oak Bluffs.