Consider housing needs when voting

2

To the Editor:

I write to articulate some facts regarding the proposed Housing Bank that may be helpful as Islanders decide how they will vote on warrant articles.

First, there is universal agreement that M.V. faces a crisis in affordable housing. This means that elders who want or need to downsize to smaller homes can’t find them to rent or buy, nor can the younger generation who take care of us as nurses, teachers, coaches, caregivers, salespeople and entrepreneurs.

Second, this Housing Bank opportunity — whose concept was approved by over 70 percent in town meetings — was modeled on the Land Bank, which is generally regarded as an effective and well-run operation.

Third, the short-term rental tax will be paid by visitors, not Islanders, and using some of it for housing makes sense because summer short-term rentals sharply reduce our year-round housing stock and force people to do the summer shuffle.

Fourth, this new revenue — whatever the final amount collected by each town and however the selectmen decide to use it — is a rare and incredible opportunity to make some progress toward solving local housing shortages. If some significant part of it is not earmarked for housing, it is unlikely the opportunity will come again soon.

I respect alternative viewpoints, and the collective wisdom of our citizens; I also note that the nature of the legislative approval process will permit improvements to the proposed structure over the next year. For now, I simply encourage all voters to consider our current housing needs and future potential.

 

Paddy Moore
West Tisbury

2 COMMENTS

  1. So far I have only seen advertising and robocall needs fulfilled by the housing bank.
    Housing is an issue, but the housing bank is unfortunately not the group that is going to solve it. Maybe one of the other 5+ groups can get themselves together more and then we can fund them With this tax.
    Until then, use the money for the towns, ie the huge asks coming down the line for schools and infrastructure.
    We can spend money on housing without throwing it away on this rag tag team.
    Vote No.

  2. I am undecided on how I will vote. While I believe the term crisis is too loosely applied, there seems to be no doubt that too many people who are intregral to the Island community struggle to find affordable housing. The idea of using a portion of the short term rental tax is appealing. On the flip side, we actually have no idea how much rental tax we will actually collect. I suspect that the net revenue will be less than projected and I am loathe to support spending money we don’t have. Have we exhausted all other avenues to free up existing housing stock? Have we adequately quantified the need – how many units, where, who gets them, how will contentious decisions be made? Will it be a self-perpetuating problem-for every new unit of housing created will we get another unit of need? What about competing needs-schools, seniors, environment, taxes? What equally pressing need are we going to not address ? I would love to see a full business plan with parameters as well as collected revenue prior to making a commitment on the order of the Land Bank. Look forward to the town meeting discussion.

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