Thanks for an unsung hero


To the Editor:

When people think about what they have to be grateful for in their lives on Martha’s Vineyard, few would argue that a good home is near the top of the list. David Vigneault, the relentless, tireless, and dedicated executive director of the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, is someone who impacts many people, families, individuals and towns in pursuit of affordable housing. Yet, there is rarely a word of appreciation uttered or written about him.

For that reason I believe he is the unsung hero of housing and deserving of an award as the most underappreciated man on the Vineyard. What David does with help from those in his tiny office is staggering and so much needed by our community.

In my 13 years on Chilmark’s housing committee, David has helped us create policies, processed the income certifications on all applicants who apply for lotteries, and finally his office manages all of our rentals.

As a real estate broker, I know firsthand that managing rentals is not always a walk in the park, and when confronted with situations of complexity and conflict, David is a patient champion who provides understanding and empathy in an effort to arrive at the best resolution for all the individuals involved.

I have oversimplified what David and his staff do because it is really quite complicated.  Many apartments that the DCRHA manages are in fact subsidized, but the DCRHA has no money of its own. This means that monies have to be located from various sources — for example town community preservation act funds. They have to make sure the rents are in line with the tenants’ needs and that landlord subsidies are fair market and so forth. There are many moving parts and the staff at the DCRHA pushes those parts around like an 11-year-old Lego pro.

Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, things can get tough for the tenants of these properties, just like everyone else, and when they do David and his team aggressively seek ways to help people get over these “patches” of difficult times, keep their homes and the stability that comes with them. Then there is the waiting list of hopeful families and individuals looking for stability, and that list frequently exceeds 250 names.

David has amazed me with his knowledge, touched me with his compassion, and proven that the community and the more than 75 families that he currently supports and who benefit from his efforts should do more to let him know we are grateful for his long hours and unbelievable level of commitment. I for one want to say thank you and show my appreciation to David and his staff.  I know I represent my housing committee when I say we are grateful for your help, guidance, tenacity, and leadership. Keep up the good work!

Jim Feiner

Chilmark housing committee chairman