To the Editor:
The housing production plans recently created by the All-Island Planning Board in conjunction with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission cannot be left to gather dust. Not only are Island families struggling to remain here for lack of year-round rentals; our community’s economy is at risk. When a significant portion of our workforce is commuting from off-Island, almost all of those dollars earned depart every evening, to be spent elsewhere. So in addition to having trouble finding and retaining qualified employees, our local businesses suffer from reduced commerce overall. It’s a public safety issue as well: Recent comments by EMT, fire, and police chiefs speak to problems keeping their forces properly staffed.
This downward spiral must be reversed.The Island Housing Trust (IHT) has been and remains dedicated to doing its share to solve the problem. Over the past 11 years we have developed, or taken responsibility for, more than 80 units of permanently affordable ownership and rental housing. Recently we have committed to significantly increasing our efforts, by adding 100 more units by the end of 2020. This ambitious goal will provide approximately 42 percent of the need forecast by the housing production plan over the next five years.
We estimate that 100 units will require approximately $24 million to be raised over the next four years. As we have successfully done in the past, we plan to raise approximately ⅓ of the funding from local grants, ⅓ from private donations, and ⅓ from state grants. We have recently augmented our staff to fulfill this ambitious fundraising goal.
But the IHT can’t do it alone. If we are going to solve this Island-wide problem, each town must commit: to adopting their housing production plan; to work together to create a regional funding mechanism; to adjusting their zoning; and to attracting developers by making suitable town land available. Solving the housing problem will not only improve our year-round economy, it will make our community a more diverse and stable place for all of us, and provide our co-workers and neighbors with a safe, secure place to live and raise their families.
Philippe Jordi, executive director
Island Housing Trust