Update: Housing bank sweeps to victory

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Updated April 13

West Tisbury, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury voters have all approved housing bank legislation for Martha’s Vineyard in a clean sweep for proponents of affordable and workforce housing on the Island. 

While Tuesday was a huge step for the housing bank, which proposes to use a 2 percent transfer fee on the sale of property over $1 million, it still must pass at the ballot box, and ultimately be endorsed by the state legislature.

In a 324-27 vote, West Tisbury became the first town to approve the proposal as town meetings got underway in four towns Tuesday.

While the majority of West Tisbury voters were in favor of the housing bank, much of the discussion revolved around asking clarifying questions. The discussion took the better part of an hour.

Abbie Zell, a member of the M.V. housing bank steering committee, talked about the difficulties young people have getting housing. She is 31 and lives with her husband in stable housing, something she knows is rare.

West Tisbury voter Chuck Hodgkinson said the housing bank “is not a bad idea,” but there are reasons to be concerned, such as how this may act as a bank. He also spoke about the costs pertaining to the housing bank, and suggested more time is needed. Later, he congratulated proponents on the vote passing. 

Dan Larkosh, a West Tisbury resident who has been a frequent commenter against the housing bank, said the housing crisis comes from the Island’s growing population. He said the housing bank might bring even more people to the Island. 

When the final tally was announced in West Tisbury, the room erupted in applause.

A short time later, Edgartown also approved the housing bank overwhelmingly after only a bit of discussion. Edgartown select board member Margaret Serpa was one of the few leaders on the Island to come out against the housing bank.

In Edgartown, Kate Putnam, a member of the Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank, said this is only the first step in a process that will see the legislation reviewed by lawmakers if the ballot question regarding the housing bank is approved. Putnam cited firsthand examples of the effects of the housing crisis on-Island. She said two affordable housing cottages that were originally being rented to local workers are being sold, likely for use as a seasonal residence. “When the property sells, these workers will be displaced,” Putnam said.

According to the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, she said, more than 1,000 households on the Vineyard are currently living in substandard housing. “Yes, I do know people who have lived in the State Forest, and you probably do, too,” she continued. “These are people who work here, and these are the people that the housing bank will support.”

Putnam said approving the housing bank legislation will give the Vineyard a seat at the table as the statewide transfer fee is being shaped and discussed. “This housing crisis threatens our community, our economy, and our way of life. We all know people who have left the Island or turned down jobs due to housing issues,” she said.

Kathleen Samways of the Dukes County Health Council spoke to the health effects she sees at the community health center due to the lack of housing. She noted that folks often don’t have money for healthy and nutritious food, and their stress levels caused by uncertainty have deleterious health effects. Additionally, the lack of housing is making it difficult for healthcare organizations to recruit staff.

A number of townspeople said they were concerned that the Island wouldn’t have adequate weight when compared with other cities and towns that will also be involved in the program.

Bruce Nevin said that in the second-to-last paragraph of the housing bank article, the language reads that individual towns and cities are authorized to issue rules, policies, and procedures that make it so that Edgartown and the rest of the Island won’t be forced to relinquish any control of their housing initiatives. “I think this is an answer to the fear and uncertainty we have been hearing,” Nevin said.

Ben Hall recalled childhood friends who were forced to leave the Island due to the lack of housing or the high cost of housing. He stressed that the heart of the community is the families that have been living on the Island for generations, adding that the proposed legislation does not involve any development, and simply serves as a collection agency. “I don’t think we should be concerned about losing control or overdeveloping,” Hall said.

C.J. Moriarty said the housing bank isn’t a panacea, but it’s a good start. While he recognized people’s philosophical objections, he said the issue is really a moral question. “What type of a community do you want to be? As any community needs, we need good teachers, a good police force, a good fire force, adequate and well-trained doctors and nurses and first responders. Through no fault of their own, these essential people are being priced out of this Island,” Moriarty said.

There were fewer than five no votes in Oak Bluffs, and the issue took less than 15 minutes, with no one speaking against the proposal.

Kyra Sullivan, member of the coalition, told voters, “I’m asking you to vote yes tonight,” and on Thursday to send the legislation to Beacon Hill. “I’m fortunate to have lived in Oak Bluffs for half my life, long enough to establish roots, start a family,” Sullivan said. “According to our regional housing authority, there are more than 1,000 households on waiting lists doing the shuffle, living in basements, living with family; we all know people who have left, we all know people who are looking, so it’s not a question that there’s a need.”

Sullivan said housing is needed for workers on the Island. “This is only a step, it’s a step forward. It’s not an adoption vote of the housing bank. A yes vote tonight and again at the ballot in two days merely sends a [signal] to legislature [for] their consideration. It gives us a seat at the table,” she said. “We’re essentially raising our hands with a collective yes vote to say we have a year-round housing problem, we need dedicated funds to address it appropriately, and please give us the right to do so.”

Once the vote was taken in Oak Bluffs, the crowd cheered the outcome.

In Tisbury, the vote was 205-23.

Rachel Orr, a Vineyard attorney, attempted to amend the article, but those amendments were rejected. Orr said she fears that some of the vague language could lead to lawsuits, and she suggested that the transfer fee be split 50/50 between buyers and sellers of the property.

John Abrams, who has been a vocal supporter of the housing bank, and is part of the coalition steering committee, asked Tisbury voters to support the language as presented. “I urge you strongly not to amend this in any way,” he said.

The article had strong support, as it did in other towns. “At this point in time we need a game-changer,” voter Barbara Lamson said.

Tony Peake, another Tisbury voter, called the housing bank “wrong,” but ultimately voters overwhelmingly supported it.

What started 18 months ago as a coalition of Island leaders blossomed into a home rule petition aimed at creating a housing bank on the Island. The steering committee of the Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank was co-chaired by Julie Fay, former Martha’s Vineyard Community Services executive director, and Arielle Faria, current administrator of the Edgartown affordable housing committee, and resident of the new Scott’s Grove apartments in West Tisbury. 

This is the third attempt at a housing bank on Martha’s Vineyard. The first in 2005 got agreement from all six Island towns and Island realtors, but was shot down by the state legislature when the Massachusetts Association of Realtors lobbied against it. A second attempt in 2019 to use 50 percent of the funds collected from the expanded rooms excise tax on rentals such as Airbnb and VRBO was shot down by town meetings, and got little to no buy-in from Island leaders.

The coalition sought to change that by bringing select board members into the process early and holding forums over the course of the past year.

During the 16 months since the housing bank coalition was announced, the Island’s housing crisis has only gotten worse — exacerbated by the proliferation of short-term rentals and a housing market that was so scorching hot it sent the median housing price from $800,000 to $1.2 million, as people sought refuge from the ongoing pandemic on the Island.

Voters in all six Island towns will be asked to consider a housing bank at town meetings and on town election ballots. A 2 percent transfer fee would be paid by the purchaser of a property on the Vineyard. The first $1 million would be exempt from the fee. So the buyer of a home for $1.2 million would pay a 2 percent fee on the $200,000.

On Thursday, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, and West Tisbury will also consider a ballot question to support the housing bank. Tisbury’s town election was delayed, and won’t occur until next month. Chilmark’s town meeting and election are later this month, while Aquinnah voters will close out the season in May.

Four out of the six Island towns must approve the legislation for it to go forward.

Town meetings voters turned out in droves in West Tisbury, Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown to conduct town business.

For the first time in two years, voters were back in their typical venues. In Tisbury, voters were inside the Tisbury School gym for the final time, as the school is about to undergo a $55 million renovation and addition project.

Meanwhile, voters in Edgartown were at the Old Whaling Church, West Tisbury was back at the West Tisbury School, and Oak Bluffs met inside the PAC at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

Although they’re no longer required indoors, masks were plentiful among the voters as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporters Eunki Seonwoo, Abigail Rosen, Lucas Thors, and Rich Saltzberg contributed to this story.

Updated with a correction to Chuck Hodgkinson’s quote. 

57 COMMENTS

  1. I think this is foolish. All you yes voters can now expect much higher taxes as the single costliest expense, schools, will now need expansion from all the new families moving here. Expect increased traffic and longer waiting lines at stores and the supermarket. I would think a high speed boat from the mainland reducing travel time to only 20 minutes, is the solution.

    • What is foolish is to think that Falmouth wants to be the bedroom for the Island’s worker bees.
      Typical Liberal laziness, make your problem someone else’s problem.
      The twenty minute commute is a pipe dream, the minimum commute time home driveway to workplace will be at least an hour.

      • Woods Hole is already the primary entryway to the island with many daily commuters come from as far away as Bridgewater and Wareham. I stand with John in supporting a solution that benefits all island stakeholders.
        Hope your day is as pleasant as you are.

        • Woods Hole wants the Island to go away.
          The Island does nothing for Woods Hole except take valuable waterfront property off the tax rolls.
          Tear down paradise and put up a parking lot.
          The true Conservative approach to the Island’s housing problem is to make it someone else’s problem.
          Those people need to steep up and make the Island nice.
          Falmouth is too nice, they need more commuters

    • Actually this won’t affect taxes at all! The money for the housing bank is a 2% transfer fee from home buyers purchasing anything OVER 1,000,000. (So if buying for 1.2 million it would be 2% on 200k). There is no added taxes to anyone that is not buying a home for over 1 million, just like how the lank bank does it.

      • You do understand the impact to the tax rolls will follow. More residents need more services which requires more tax money.

          • Higher property values are what fills the town’s coffers, not the number of residents. More residents means a higher cost to the town for school, police, fire and other essential services. We should be celebrating, but instead we are killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

          • “More residents generate more tax dollars.”

            Actually, no.

            It has been well established for decades in published studies that keeping land undeveloped keeps taxes down.

            Developing land, adding residences, and adding residents and more services leads to higher taxes. For schools, infrastructure, policing. In the island case add more cars and increased ferry trips, more damage to both town and local roads. Etc. Use your imagination to connect more such dots. And the more off-islanders come here the more push they bring with them to make this place like the suburbanized mainland.

            Surely attendees of Island town meetings saw the huge percentages of town budgets devoted to personnel costs. Just one aspect.
            New taxes generated by new residents and development do not offset higher municipal budgets and higher taxes to cover them.

            This is not rocket science.

      • I’ve heard a lot of talk from loud proponents falsely claim that the only people who will be affected are rich potential homebuyers. Misleading, incomplete, and incorrect information, used to get people to vote for something most proponents don’t understand is wrong. Hannah’s comment is just one example

        I don’t see all the downside repercussions either, but aside from being told, “have faith, this is a start”, I’m informed enough not to vote for being steamrolled like most voters. Vote with your head, not your heart.

        And since when did money grabs from wealthy home buyers become okay? Price gouging, using a phony discount against those perceived as “off-island rich”, as opposed to the on-island rich who dream up these scams, is a bad enough self-entitlement of a local mindset.

        Is anyone going to cheer on the Land bank these days, for the unforeseen consequences contributing to housing shortages? The housing bank repeatedly has bragged his the are based on land bank, until they’ve started to distance themselves with the LB’s latest incidents of greed, arrogance, and self promoting/self serving acquisitions. History repeats itself. Be careful what you wish for. The devil is in the unresolved, changing details that we’re told not to worry about.

    • Unless you add a really late boat, this will do nothing to help restaurants attract and retain employees. Also, the Cape is struggling to find restaurant help so why would someone want to add the cost of a ferry ticket and parking to take a job on the island when they could get one in their own backyard? This, by the way, doesn’t mean I’m not in favor of adding a late-night ferry. We need as many options to get doctors, nurses, PTs, teachers, retail clerks, servers, chefs, dishwashers, construction workers, direct care staff for frail elders and people with disabilities . . .

      • Why not a Commuter parking lot within walking distance to the ferry?? It would require special pass. I know how to enforce etc but could make a late fast ferry attractive also think WH would like fewer SSA parking lot buses driving thru town

    • I think there are a lot of obstacles when it comes to adding another boat in WH. Even putting those aside, insisting that essential employees commute has been getting us nowhere. Too many positions are still empty. Some highly qualified people just don’t want to. Shaving time off the actual crossing isn’t going to make this option that much more enticing to those who are tired of the whole process or whose work hours are not compatible with the boat schedule. They are constantly away from family and at the mercy of the weather.

      It gets old.

      In my opinion, if we want doctors, nurses, caregivers, teachers, etc. to stick around for the long haul, we have to accept that some will want to put down roots here. That seems only fair to me. “We’ll take your hard work, but then you better head on home” is not that welcoming or appealing. Not when there are vital staff shortages in other communities. Workers can choose to go elsewhere, and they have been doing just that.

      I don’t know what the best solution is, but it’s likely not more of the same. I suspect that those who want to commute already are.

      • I appreciate your engagement but it seems you are missing the bigger picture. To put it in perspective, the fast ferry from woods hole took 15-20 minutes one way in 2018. That’s less time than it takes to drive from Edgartown to west Tisbury in most seasons. An approximate reduction of 50% travel time would benefit everyone – commuters, elderly islanders, businesses, students (yes, Falmouth children attend the charter school) and you. EVERYONE uses the ferry, directly and indirectly. The housing bank and a fast ferry is a belt and suspenders solution. If the county commissioners, island reps, etc spent as much time advocating for the fast ferry as they did chastising Cyr and Fernandes over the SSA legislation and its process the ferry would have been put into service yesterday.

        • There has been a twenty minute fast ferry from Falmouth for the better part of twenty years.
          Sometimes the ride is a little rough.
          The owner would like to run a more comfortable boat.
          He says that would require subsidy.
          Should that come from the Island real estate estate taxes?

          • The 20 minute commute is a pipe dream.
            30 minutes from remote parking.
            10 minutes to load.
            20 minutes under way.
            10 minutes to to unload
            10 minutes to your on Island transportation.
            The 20 minute commute pipe takes 80 minutes minimum end to end.
            Not counting the time it takes to get to remote parking and to your Island job.
            You may be surprised to hear this but Falmouth also has a severe housing problem.
            They have no interest in being the bedrooms for the Island’s worker bees.
            Trey do you have the courage of your convictions.
            Will you do your part by commuting.

        • Trey, I understood you.

          I was trying to raise a specific, pressing issue that cannot be resolved by adding more fast ferries.

  2. Little public criticism of this monster bill is tolerated.

    Advocates act like fans of a football team.

    Many citizens were simply shut up by the Town Moderator.

    We’ll see how it fares on secret ballots.

    • Katherine
      Bravo!
      The Tisbury moderator should not let personal preference dictate who can speak. Proponents were allowed endless time to speak. Opponents were rigidly told to ask a question or be gone.
      And one last person – who was standing at the mic (which for her seemed to require a considerable effort) for at least 10 minutes waiting her turn and was not allowed to speak.
      Civility seemed to be in short supply.

  3. So amazing to see the overwhelming support this legislation received in all four towns! It was lovely to witness the joy people were feeling as the first step towards housing affordability on this island took shape. The excitement is palpable. Let’s get out the vote at the ballot box now! Edg, WT + OB on 4/14.

    There were lots of great comments about ways to continue to make this legislation best for our island and for everyone, and I know that CCMVHB will take all of them to heart and do the best they can to tailor the final piece of legislation to help the most folks in need here on the island. I heard some skepticism on this front but I have already seen it change over time, and only for the better.

    Let’s all keep in mind that housing equity can’t be fixed by one thing or another, it can (and most likely has to) be a combination of many things! YES Housing Bank, YES faster commutes, YES changing zoning, YES preserve our island community. We can do all of the above!

    • I stand with John, Jared, and for all island stakeholders for a fast commuter ferry from Woods Hole. The Housing Bank and We Stand Together/Estamos Todos Juntos have asked the island to stand with them in their pursuit of a solution to the housing crisis, will your organizations stand with me and other island stakeholders for a solution to the affordability crisis by supporting a fast commuter ferry from Woods Hole?

  4. Mr. Ackerton,

    Thank you for voicing your opinion, however:

    Please realize that this initiative will provide stable housing for families THAT ALREADY LIVE HERE. The reality is that, if this article is not passed – then all of our real estate taxes WILL be increased because that will be the only way for the towns to fund the creation of the housing that our workforce – in every aspect of life here – must have for our community to function.

  5. Here’s why I will vote twice for the Housing Bank—at town meeting and at the ballot box.
    People have questions about whether the Housing Bank will be run by people who do what we want. Well, I’m 74, and so far, no one in my life has done everything I want. BUT the people who are elected to make the Housing Bank decisions will be working incredibly hard to make the best possible decisions for our island and for affordable housing. They live here and know what matters to us.
    Without the Housing Bank, those decisions are made by the wealthy folks, mostly people who don’t live here year round and don’t care about affordable housing. They care most about making more money.They have been making those decisions and will continue to, if we let them.
    So vote for the Housing Bank, elect the best people we can find, complain about the decisions we don’t agree with, and vote them out if they don’t do their job.
    To me, the balance is clear. Support the Housing Bank!

  6. In Oak Bluffs the moderator allowed anyone who wanted to speak a chance to address Town Meeting. Nobody rose to speak in opposition. Throughout the many months of the Housing Bank campaign there were multiple opportunities for critics to speak. The Coalition actually modified the proposal multiple times to address the concerns of critics. A far cry from the suggestion that critical comments were suppressed.

    • People a lot smarter than me know when to keep their mouth shut in public. Have a look at Islanders Talk to see how well dissent is tolerated by this latest cult of loud proponents, some quite obnoxious in their personal attacks. Pay careful attention to any businessperson pushing for this mooching scheme even though they contribute to rental shortages by buying up multiple properties— to rent to their own employees. Then they’ll tell you how they should get a medal because they could have turned those properties into weekly rentals! Both self serving scenarios contribute to rental shortages, with one worse than the other. It’s like saying squamous cell carcinoma is a lot better than melanoma. While that may be true, it’s important to acknowledge both are cancer. Vote no on another bureaucratic money grab that is so convoluted and complicated with devilish details like their deed transfers preying on cash strapped homeowners, it will make your head spin. Find me one person who knows what the hell they’re talking about without an agenda of self-interest, who isn’t being paid, or who doesn’t stand to gain somehow, and I’ll listen. So far, it’s a no. What I particularly want to hear is just how big people think the island is. None of this ski resort comparison nonsense. What happened to the self reliance and pride of the simple life here? Gone forever. Let’s build more swimming pools and house everyone who has a job building and maintaining them. Meanwhile the business owners who buy up multiple houses for their profit growth, cry hysterically that there’ll be no police or teachers if we don’t pass this! And they’re partially responsible for creating this. Passing this bill, that can’t discriminate between a swimming pool installer or a nurse applicant, will help put another mail in the coffin.

    • The votes last night just go to show that the comment sections of our local papers bear very little resemblance to reality.

  7. West Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown + Vineyard Haven – you just made it *clear* to the many people here who are housing insecure: WE SEE YOU. WE CARE ABOUT YOU. Next step is to the ballot box + our up island towns!

    • Caitlin, everyone with a heart cares about the housing insecure, particularly about families and elderly. The devil is in the details that really do not address why there is and always has been housing insecurity on the island. It’s the how the economy functions, relying on real estate and seasonal money. I mentored a child for many years whose single mother moved them every 6 months, and that was before things became as crowded as now. I learned a lot from within a community I would not have otherwise seen so compassionately. The HB doesn’t look to me like a tool, but rather a scheme, almost pyramid like, that exacerbates the problem. Please don’t tell me to wade through more pages of incomprehensible material.I’ve done that. I need a summary with potential downsides explained. No one will address the problems honestly. I cannot go to my town meeting for medical reasons, but I’m voting in the election.

  8. Well third time is the charm. Proud of OB supporting our Housing Bank. Now let’s vote yes on Thursday and keep this moving forward.

  9. I love the “don’t read the fine print” “we’ll fix it later” approach to getting this passed.

    Meanwhile—cognitive dissonance alert—pressure was exerted not to amend the article and to present ONE article from the Vineyard to the State House.

    These two directions of argument do not compute.

    The proposal will be tweaked according to the time and resources of those who can launch lobbying efforts at the State House. Plus, apparently this proposed legislation is being coordinated with a whole slew of off-Island towns, to the extent that one wonders whether this is even an Island initiative and who is actually behind it.

    Some voters were allowed to go on at great length—over five minutes—to tell their personal stories of housing travail, including one who has a lovely house in an expensive neighborhood. After the clock was run out with sob stories and moralistic exhortations, others who wished to speak were told to sit down.

    The only real banker-economist who spoke at Tisbury Town Meeting about the so-called Housing Bank—which does not appear to me to be any kind of bank at all but actually just a big pile of money under the control of amateurs—was critical of the math and forward calculations behind this scheme.

    And a member of our Finance Committee—competent and honest—presented an excellent analysis of the weaknesses in this proposed legislation.

    • Hi Katherine, there is an amendment process that can be undertaken prior to the legislative filing, it is outlined in the first paragraph of the warrant article which was printed on all the warrants: https://www.ccmvhb.org/the-warrant-article.
      Amending on town meeting floor is problematic when the same article needs to pass with the same language in all six towns, which is why the amendment process is written into the warrant article. Additionally: proposing an amendment at state level for local legislation doesn’t require lobbying, it is a fairly simple process that is done via our state representative, so once the legislation is filed it can be amended while working its way thru the legislature. Local legislation is a less contentious process than passing statewide legislation. Regarding the state legislation and how it fits into the local legislation: the statewide Local Option for Housing Affordability (LOHA) coalition website is here https://www.realestatetransferfee.org/, and no one mysterious is “behind” it — you’ll see all the towns and cities participating listed, as well as the grassroots coalition across the state that is supporting the bill. The Nantucket Housing Director is on the steering committee, along with reps from the Somerville Mayor’s office, Arlington Select Board, Boston Tenant’s Coalition, Concord Housing, Watertown city council, myself, and many others. The goal of LOHA is to support all the various Home Rule Petitions for transfer fees for affordable housing, and to simultaneously support statewide enabling legislation which would allow all the Home Rule Petitions to be passed — LOHA is working directly with legislators to shepherd the process along. I’m happy to answer direct questions or set up a time to talk if you’d like more detailed information — info@ccmvhb.org.

      • ” Local legislation is a less contentious process than passing statewide legislation. Regarding the state legislation and how it fits into the local legislation: the statewide Local Option for Housing Affordability (LOHA) coalition website is here https://www.realestatetransferfee.org/, and no one mysterious is “behind” it — you’ll see all the towns and cities participating listed, as well as the grassroots coalition across the state that is supporting the bill. The Nantucket Housing Director is on the steering committee, along with reps from the Somerville Mayor’s office, Arlington Select Board, Boston Tenant’s Coalition, Concord Housing, Watertown city council, myself, and many others.”

        Hmmm.
        What I said.

        • Katherine — I may not have been clear enough: the local legislation is the Housing Bank Act. That is not a target of interest for other cities and towns — they are all focusing on their own local filings for the same transfer fee mechanism. The state enabling legislation is a larger piece of legislation that is crafted to support all the local filings going through — it is crafted to allow passage of the MV Housing Bank Act, as well as Nantucket’s Home Rule Petition, both of which are seeking provisions that overlap with all the other home rule petitions. Direct questions can be sent to info@ccmvhb.org or tholland@nantucket-ma.gov — thanks!

          • “The state enabling legislation is a larger piece of legislation”
            Well, this looks like just the situation I surmised.
            The State Legislature can do what it wants. It does not need “other” legislation to empower it to pass a certain bill.

            For instance, legislation that created the SSA and the Land Bank did not AFAIK require *other* legislation before the State Legislature could act.

            What are the core provisions of this “larger piece of legislation”? Why is it needed?
            And who is behind it?
            Nonprofits and do-gooder-sounding orgs cover a multitude of entities and individuals that have their own agendas, as we well know.
            Why is something needed “that is crafted to support all the local filings going through ” ?
            Please be specific.
            This all sounds obscure and loaded with buzzwords.

  10. The West Tisbury moderator did not shut anyone down. Indeed those who spoke against the Housing Bank took the most of the hour long discussion and were given as much time as they needed. I find it interesting that while everyone gives lip service to affordable housing, few people who oppose it offer a reasonable alternative. It’s really easy to curse the darkness instead of lighting one candle. The Coalition did a marvelous job – going to all the towns, answering all questions that anyone cared to ask. No one has rushed into this – it’s been a process long in the making. Indeed, 3 years ago West Tisbury actually approved it – the only town to do so. Since we were the only town to do so, the administrators asked that it be rescinded so that more details could gathered. Although I agreed at the time, I came to regret it – the promised study didn’t occur until the Coalition was formed. In my years working on the affordable housing crisis (and it is a crisis), this is the best idea that has come along. If something isn’t done this island that we care so deeply about will lose essential personnel, young people will leave and the island will eventually become a floating old age home. One more thing, last night was just the first step. There will be many eyes looking at this initiative before it becomes final. That’s a good thing – the more input, the better the product. As long as it gets done in a timely manner.

    • ” few people who oppose it offer a reasonable alternative. ”

      There are better ideas out there.
      Tweaking doesn’t correct a questionable basic premise.
      Not speaking openly about genuine obstacles is magical thinking.

    • Ted, the people who oppose the Housing Bank do not oppose affordable housing. This is the garbage being spewed by hysterical proponents who in fact support legalized, bureaucratic mooching, as long as it’s not from them. Lots of alternatives have been suggested. In fact, when I suggested on Facebook that a rich HB proponent pay his staff a living wage so they could rent their own apartments NOT in his multiple investments he took off the market for the purpose of having housing for his staff, he blocked me on Facebook rather than answer.

      By the way, your ageist comment is disgusting. Lots of old folks are moving off island as it is now.

      • You’re right – people who oppose the Housing Bank do not necessarily oppose affordable housing, but they don’t offer any real alternatives – a bridge? a fast ferry? The HB initiative has been worked on for several years. This product may not be perfect, but it’s an important start. As far as my “ageist” comment is concerned, I’m sorry you found it “disgusting”. However as an 82 year old, I am fearful that at some point the majority of folks left on the Island will be my age. After years of working on the Affordable Housing Committee, I have noted that more young people are abandoning their hope of living here than the elderly.

        • I beg your pardon, Ted, for my thoughtless and ignorant comment regarding “ageism”. I apologize for my remark.

          After years of working on the Affordable Housing Committee, it seems a shame that desperation and crisis is more present than ever. Maybe that’s because no one is talking about the reality of cause of and effect of our own behaviors. Imagine if employees were paid an island living wage– just one of many suggestions that is ignored or scoffed at by businesses who will lose profit and their pretense of bottomless, unending growth if only. Deyanu… it would have been enough. But better to mooch and call it a transfer fee? Be careful what you wish for. The devil is in the details.

        • A fast ferry was temporarily implemented by the SSA in 2018 due to all the ferry breakdowns. A fast commuter ferry is not a silver bullet for the affordability crisis but it’s a very real and viable alternative.

    • All points of view are not being fairly considered by the media, and people who dare speak out against the HB bill are marginalized. The HB bill is backed by a group of self-interested people who benefit from construction. They have convinced a bunch of well-meaning but misguided AH folks to support the bill. The anti-HB coalition is currently unorganized and unfunded.
      You will never be able to build enough housing for all the people who want to live here. I have nothing against AH, but the Housing Bank bill is a bad idea. I am not obligated to solve an unsolvable “problem” in order to have a valid opinion on that. As the people promoting a governmental bureaucracy with 15 million in annual funding, the AH advocates have the burden of proving it will alleviate the “problem”. Yet no one is holding them accountable to meet that burden. The AH folks want support without any study or written analysis that shows how it will work. The way this is sold as all things to all people is disingenuous. We should know the plan in advance not support something that will be somehow majically changed and modified to everyone’s liking. The HB won’t work because it will only encourage and cause more people to move here.

      • It appears to me that a careful reading of the material on the Coalition’s website will address many of your concerns. As an “AH advocate” I’m sure this will go a long way toward alleviating the housing problem (and it is a problem). In any event, there will be many eyes on the initiative before it is finalized. If anyone has any reasonable questions, no doubt the Coalition members can answer them. As far as more people moving here, it doesn’t seem to be a bad thing – it’s good for business, good for the community.

        • The “good for business” mantra couldn’t be more short sighted or have more well meaning people snookered. It’s not reality that a good for business approach to housing shortages is in any way good for the island, it’s people, and it’s infrastructure. It’s a temporary, quick fix that won’t get to the roots of housing shortages on a finite island dependent on visitors and real estate sales and rentals. An island that fights tooth and nail against a damn stoplight at (flooded) 5 corners, or a rotary at the old blinking light, can’t see how “good for business” caused the housing crisis? The impossible parking? The ambulance stuck in traffic? The next time someone worries about cutting down some trees because it changes the character of a street that is unpleasant to walk down at night because of all the intoxicated folks standing outside smoking, we’re at least supposed to be happy about inviting hordes of people to Martha’s Vineyard so more people can make a buck and a few people can make a killing? That’s insane. The gold rush days are over, in case no one has noticed. Is there anyone who’s pushing this who can’t see that squeezing the life out of a small island for money is not actually a good thing? Are there any proponents who love the island more than their own self-interests? Doesn’t seem so.

          By the way, the only people actually entitled to live on this land are the Wampanoag people. The rest of us are chopped liver, despite how far back we washed ashore, or our years volunteering, sitting on committees, quietly helping others where we can. Oh, to be without all this obnoxious crowing going on to prove how passionately entitled this or that one is to live in a place grown so unaffordable and inhospitable to many.

      • Agree 100%, Dan. Logical, red flag observations such as this are being glossed over, ignored, or censored. We should not need to create a funded, organized group to speak to address the aggression of the proponent campaign. Further, the people verbalizing these problems are getting personally attacked on line by the most aggressive proponents of the HB. Reminds me of the tactics Mark London of the MVC endured during the hysteria over the roundabout. This newspaper in particular can do a better job in their reporting opponent views, even though they support the bill. If the housing bank is as positive for the island as proponents claim, why suppress opposing views?

  11. I really like the effort put into this. Great initiative. But the real problem it’s not housing. It’s border patrol and visa controls. The more room you create more immigrants will arrive. Look into the number of new students enrolled into the school alone In the last 4 years. Sadly to say that this island has been flooded with the real elefant in the room that nobody dares to mention. People are sleeping in the cars, people are living in sheds. Why? Because they still can afford. Still can get a “well paid” job to afford the living. Now, legalize the work force and things will stabilize eventually. Do nothing and half of this island will be owned by ilegal immigrants soon enough.

    • Yes, lets keep the immigrants out. Just a question, who besides the Wampanoag on this island are NOT immigrants? We have a lot of hard working folks here who help keep the island functioning. Even you are descended from Mayhew, your jingoistic diatribe is un-American. What happened to “give me your tired, your poor —-“? Maybe you’d like an ICE office on the island??

  12. It’s time to address the core problem. It’s transportation access to the island. Let’s come together and finally build the bridge from Falmouth to West Chop! You will very quickly realize how worker access, housing access and shopping access will smooth out. A reasonable toll coming over to the island will fund it. Prices for all commodities will drop very quickly. Let’s make the island affordable again! Let’s Build Bridges, not fences!

  13. Lets suppose the fantasy of 100 homes are bought for 2 million. That’s 2 percent on 1million which is 20 thousand and 100 times that is 2 million. How much housing stock are you going to get for that number? A lot of homes to buy and sell at a high price. It wont work.

  14. Mr Connall, you cant use averages on collections of 2 percent since 58 percent of transactions were on houses over 1 million. Furthermore the Covid phenomenon and work at home caused people to move anywhere and grab properties with low interest rates. That will end. You should not assume that you will get 12mm every year.

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