To the Editor:
At next month’s town meetings there will be several articles that are nothing short of vital to the well-being of the Island and those who live here. The Housing Bank proposal may not be the ideal solution for the housing crisis, but the articles do not commit the towns to anything else but accepting the concept. We have nothing to lose by supporting these articles. The proposal must still go to the state legislature, and nothing will be finalized until at least 2021. Even then, changes can be made to better suit housing issues.
There are a number of opponents to this project, but none of them have come up with a better choice. While we await their wisdom and solutions, the housing crisis gets worse. It has been suggested that if the problem is not addressed in a timely fashion, Martha’s Vineyard will become very much like Nantucket — a resort destination with not enough housing to support service people, teachers, medical personnel, day care workers, and first responders. These are generally younger people, many of whom have no permanent long-term housing. Even though our older population may not be affected by the same housing shortage, they require that these services be available. Imagine being at the mercy of an understaffed fire department, not having adequate personnel at the hospital, no access to a home health aide.
There is a misconception that the Housing Bank will only address affordable housing. This is not true. Indeed the mission of the Housing Bank will focus largely on long-term housing, on rental subsidies, perhaps even mortgage assistance. It is anticipated that this entity can attract other sources of funding such as bonds or philanthropic gifts.
The only thing that a supportive vote does is to let elected officials on the Island and in Boston know we are willing to try to address the housing crisis. A negative vote leaves us with essentially no choice, voting yes gives us options for the future, and may well save the home we love.