Housing crisis affects workers

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To the Editor: 

This letter was sent to members of the Massachusetts House and Senate.

I write to you today to ask for action to address the severity of Martha’s Vineyard’s housing crisis, its negative impact on our economy and infrastructure, and the need for significant, reliable long-term funding Island-wide to implement housing solutions. I support bills introduced in the Massachusetts legislature this session which seek to establish transfer fees on real estate transactions over a certain amount to fund affordable, community, and attainable housing. I furthermore support amendments to these bills to allow deed restriction up to 240 percent of area median income, to address critical year-round workforce housing needs, as our median home price on the Island continues to climb past $1.2 million.

S868: malegislature.gov/Bills/192/S868

H1377: malegislature.gov/Bills/192/H1377

H2895: malegislature.gov/Bills/192/H2895

I respectfully request that these bills be reported out of committee favorably. Please note my support.

My husband and I own two local restaurants in Edgartown, and are co-owners of a local beer company and wine shop. We see firsthand the immediate and emergent need for housing for the middle and lower class here. We have an increasingly difficult time staffing our businesses because there is nowhere for employees to live. It prevents them from coming to the Island at all, which makes it incredibly hard and scary as owners to operate our business successfully with staffing being our No. 1 challenge. The demand for the business is there with the wealthy homeowners, but there is a disproportionate scarcity of employee housing to keep up with serving them. 

We want to be able to raise our growing family on this Island, but this will be a struggle if this housing situation is not remedied soon. I want there to be a strong and vibrant year-round population here to keep it a healthy place to raise a family, but I worry this crisis will force many of our friends and families (or us) to leave because they can’t afford to stay. Lack of housing directly and negatively affects the economy here. 

I also endorse the Coalition to Create the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank (CCMVHB) ccmvhb.org, which seeks to create an Island-wide housing bank, funded by a transfer fee, for the purpose of directly funding affordable, community, and attainable year-round housing efforts.

Emily and Joe Monteiro
Edgartown

The Monteiros own Wash Ashore Beer Co. and 19 Raw Oyster Bar/19 Prime Steakhouse.  –Ed.