Housing Bank is needed

1

To the Editor:

Our community needs a wide variety of residents to be the healthy, enjoyable, wonderful place we love — artists, musicians, farmers, actors, secretaries, builders, office workers, professionals, and also the ne’er-do-wells and our Island characters. Our fellow Islanders all contribute to providing our rich, full life here.

Unfortunately, over the past 25 to 30 years our Island has become extremely popular with people who appreciate the beauty of the Island but choose to spend only a few days or maybe two or three weeks a year on-Island, and to rent their homes for the rest of the year — mostly weekly to maximize their return on investment. This new situation has had devastating consequences. Our year-round housing stock has plummeted in availability and skyrocketed in price.

To address this problem, there will be two warrant articles on every town meeting warrant to start the formal process of creating a long-desired Island-wide Housing Bank, with permanent funding provided from the new state-mandated short-term rental tax. No ballot vote is needed this year, just affirmative votes from town meetings.

A Housing Bank will help created a variety of year-round housing opportunities for young people, for seniors, for families — in short, for all of us.

It is up to us to steer our boat back on course by voting at our annual town meetings this month.

We can right the ship and contribute to the life we love here. Please vote.

 

Abbe Burt
Vineyard Haven

1 COMMENT

  1. I really don’t think the many island residents that have sold their property on the island for tremendously inflated prices would consider this new situation a devastating consequence. I also don’t think the many island businesses that have profited by the influx of island visitors that are housed each summer in the thousands of rental properties owned by off island residents would consider that huge income a devastating consequence either. The housing shortage has been created by island property owners who chose to inflate the value of their property because they could, those that could were willing to pay, skyrocketing prices for all. Yes, affordable housing is needed, but I think it would be a better use of the short term rental tax income to apply a percentage of it to the skyrocketing property taxes that all island home owners are paying. If each town was also allotted a percentage of the new rental tax money, town residents could have a vote on how that money was used for infrastructure, equipment, repairs and yes, affordable housing projects. Assessment of need for affordable housing and development of plans to assure affordable housing should be decided on in each town, keeping it local and controlled by town residents. Vote “NO” for the affordable housing bank. Share this new income around the island where it will help the most. Property taxes have also skyrocketed, we would all like a little more affordable housing here.

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