Vineyard realtor makes a call to alms

Jim Feiner presents a giant check to IHT executive director Philippe Jordi on Tuesday. — Photo Courtesy of the Island Housing Trust

For the past five years, Feiner Real Estate, owned by Jim Feiner, a firm that specializes primarily in up-Island sales and rentals, has donated 1 percent of profits from seasonal rentals to the Island Housing Trust (IHT). He is a member of the IHT board.

Now, as summer rental bookings kick into high gear, Mr. Feiner hopes other real estate firms will join in what he calls the Broker’s Initiative, and donate half a percent of profits from their seasonal rental income to help create housing — primarily year-round rentals — on Martha’s Vineyard.

“We contribute to the housing crisis by selling houses that are only used 10 weeks a year,” he told The Times. “We have to make a profit to sustain our businesses, but if we’re part of the problem, I think we should also be part of the solution.”

Mr. Feiner said the 1 percent annual donations from his company have totaled roughly $1,500 each of the past five years.

Brokers Initiative does not completely describe Mr. Feiner’s idea, because he is also looking to enlist private homeowners to donate one percent of their rental incomes, and to give seasonal renters the opportunity to contribute.

“For several years, I’ve been putting an optional $100 contribution on all my rental leases,” he said. “The majority opted out, but some didn’t. But the homeowners of rentals were more receptive. Of the 10 I polled, nine of them liked the idea. If a homeowner makes $90,000 in rentals then they donate $900. It’s not a lot of money. Because they love the Vineyard and have gotten a lot out of it, they thought it would be worth giving something back.”