Homeless count inches up on MV


On Feb. 22, a nationwide headcount called Point in Time of people “homeless, including those sleeping that night in shelters, transitional housing, or hotels that are funded by a charitable source or individuals who are sleeping in a place ‘not meant for human habitation,’ including sheds, vehicles, or outdoors” took place, according to a press release. Harbor Homes of Martha’s Vineyard reported that 43 individuals, including two children, were identified as homeless on Martha’s Vineyard. 

The press release stated that only individuals who came to Harbor Homes’ facilities on the evening of the count were recognized. This means these numbers are an underestimate of the homeless and housing-insecure population on the Island. Over the years, there has been a steady increase in the homeless population counted on the Island — 10 in 2017, 15 in 2019, 28 in 2020, 41 in 2021, and now 43 in 2022. Harbor Homes executive director Karen Tewhey said the 2018 data was currently unavailable because it was done by another person on the Island, who did not have copies of the data. 

Harbor Homes’ winter shelter program, which Tewhey said used to rotate around various churches and was moved to the Old Whaling Church because of COVID, saw 11 people sleeping at the site, an increase from the six during the previous year. The average number of people sleeping at the shelter has increased to around 10 to 12 after the winter shelter was moved to a building at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. 

For the past two years, funding from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and private donations has helped Harbor Homes to subsidize hotel rooms for homeless individuals who are “medically or emotionally fragile,” and for a few families with children who lost their rental housing with nowhere else to live. Additionally, Harbor Homes’ Tashmoo House for men and the New York Ave. House for women have helped 10 people considered homeless move into subsidized congregate housing.


  1. So the towns are raking in millions of dollars off short term rental taxes and yet allowing members of the community to go homeless. Disgraceful and ethically unacceptable.

    • The towns are raking in millions on short term rental taxes in an effort to hold down real estate taxes.
      Disgraceful and unacceptable.
      You rake in tens of thousands yet allow members of our community to go homeless.
      Disgraceful and unacceptable.

  2. I’m surprised that we don’t have at least some permanent congregate housing on the island. There must be a couple or 3 places island wide that could accommodate women and children with a bit of revision. P

    Our current economic situation will make it even harder for homeless folks. We shine as a society when we care for community members who are struggling…especially those with children.

  3. Yes we have homeless people who are intractably poor or indigent and cannot pick themselves up and they should be looked after. However the more one makes MV a place where homeless can gather and get taken care of, the more homeless you will get. You dont solve this problem by providing all manner of relief.

  4. Providing housing is only one “branch” that would assist the homeless get back on their feet. Other community outreach has to be in place and no one service will stamp out homeless for those in need.

    I doubt very seriously that helping the Island’s homeless will encourage folks from off-island to “come on down”! Homeless people AREN’T stupid…They know the Vineyard is a very expensive place to live.

  5. Andy– are you proud of that guy that was recently arrested for personally dealing with homelessness in D.C and New York ?

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