In a statement issued last week, the Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank (CCMVHB) announced that Laura Silber will be stepping down from her role as the coalition’s coordinator.
Silber will be transitioning from her two-year role with the CCMVHB to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, where she will be working as the commission’s full-time Island housing planner.
“[Silber] has a unique talent for grassroots organizing, an incisive grasp of state and local housing policy, and has forged strong relationships with planners and policymakers across the Island, the Cape, and on Beacon Hill,” the coalition’s executive committee stated in the release; “She is a valuable resource for the Vineyard community and the commonwealth. We are so glad her talents are staying on-Island via our regional planning agency, as we continue to address an unprecedented housing crisis both locally and statewide … We wish Laura all the best in her new role at the MVC, with great appreciation for her skill, thoughtfulness, and diplomacy over the past two years.”
Taking over Silber’s responsibilities with the coalition will be executive committee member and the former secretary of housing and economic development for Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration, Dan O’Connell, along with recently hired Noah Lipnick, who will serve as administrator for communications and community engagement.
The coalition was formed in 2021, following two failed attempts to create a Housing Bank on Martha’s Vineyard. The first was a 2005 agreement among the six Island towns and a number of real estate agents, which was ultimately dismissed by the state after being lobbied against by the Massachusetts Association of Realtors; the second was after the introduction of short-term rental charge to the state’s established rooms excise tax law in 2019, which proposed that 50 percent of short-term rental revenue from tax collections be allocated to an Island-wide Housing Bank. That proposal was widely received unfavorably by the town’s select boards, and was subsequently rejected at all six town meetings.
The coalition’s efforts, which involved modeling the housing bank after the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, and proposes to adopt a 2 percent transfer fee on transactions of property valued over $1 million, proved successful, having garnered overwhelming support by Island select boards and residents at all six town annual town meetings last spring.
After review by the Housing Bank Review Committee, which consisted of representatives from all six Island towns who were charged with recommending modifications and amendments to the 27-page proposed legislation, the Housing Bank Act finally made its way to Massachusetts legislators in late December.
The M.V. Housing Bank bill is expected to be filed on behalf of the six Island towns by state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, and Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, at the beginning of the legislative session, which starts Wednesday.