Last week’s Times story on tiny houses (Valerie Sonnenthal, The Local, “A Visit With Kathy Rose”) prompted an unusually substantive flurry of thoughtful, enthusiastic support for an innovative approach to expanding the Island’s supply of housing, expressed in online comments and direct correspondence with Times staff. That’s a good thing, because our unnatural and unhealthy undersupply of housing for Island families is a major community failure needing redress, and it won’t be fixed by housing-policy-as-usual on Martha’s Vineyard.
Whatever the merits and limitations of the currently fashionable idea of tiny houses, Ms. Rose’s cause and the broader case for encouraging tertiary dwellings go directly to the supply, variety, and affordability needed if we’re to get ahead of our housing problem. Tertiary dwellings need to be added to other design and land-use approaches that will have to be part of the mix, and public policy changes are needed to encourage implementation. The enthusiasm of our readers — citizens and housing and zoning experts alike — suggests that this is an issue where public interest is way out in front of local government.