Aquinnah town employees to rally for affordable housing

The list of possible attendees Island-wide going to the State House rally has climbed to nearly 200.

The Aquinnah select board supported town employees attending the rally in Boston for affordable housing. — Eunki Seonwoo

Aquinnah town employees will be allowed to take an administrative day to rally for affordable housing legislation in Boston. The request to the Aquinnah Select Board came to town administrator Jeffrey Madison on Tuesday afternoon, and the board formed a consensus that it should be allowed. 

The Martha Goes to Beacon Hill event is scheduled for Thursday, March 23, and is organized by the Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank. Free transportation and food will be provided. Ralliers aim to push for the Martha’s Vineyard housing bank legislation that is being considered by state legislators. Voters of all six Island towns overwhelmingly supported the housing bank during last year’s annual town meetings and elections. 

Board chair Juli Vanderhoop said allowing town employees to attend would be “fantastic,” adding that the hope is to send 200 people to Boston; she noted that the event is also looking for speakers from different backgrounds. “We want to make a big show,” she said. “Nantucket will be joining us.” 

Representatives with the housing coalition say that Aquinnah is the first town to announce they will be giving employees the opportunity to attend the rally.

“We love that Aquinnah is doing it, and hope others will join in,” John Abrams, with the coalition, said in an email to the Times. “Meanwhile, the number of people signing up is swelling day after day.” The latest estimate, he says, is more than 180 people. “The Vineyard is going to present a major presence at the legislature to underscore how important this is to the Island,” he said.

In Aquinnah on Tuesday, Vanderhoop encouraged those going to bring their children between the ages of 8 and 18. “I think it’s important that we allow our youth to witness what’s happening,” she said. 

“It’s a day off from school. I guarantee they’ll sign up,” board member Tom Murphy said.

The importance of showing Island youth policy enacting change was underscored by Vanderhoop, who said she was impacted by people pushing for change while she was at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

“I would endorse that, too,” board member Gary Haley said. 

In other housing-related news, the board unanimously approved a warrant article asking for an increase from the 4 percent short-term rental tax rate to a 6 percent short-term rental tax, the maximum allowed by the state. The collected funds would be reserved for the Aquinnah affordable housing committee, for affordable housing initiatives in the town. Committee chair Mike Hebert said other Island towns are also in the process of raising their short-term rental taxes. 


News editor Sam Houghton contributed to this story.


  1. This is a state wide issue and many communities have put forth plans. The island’s plan is one of many in the state and has little support from legislators. There may be a plan approved someday statewide but not specific to the island.

  2. I am very happy to see a community that recognizes that the Short Term Rental Tax is meant for Affordable Housing and that unlike some other communities they realize that yes the Short Term Rental Tax can be separated from the General Fund.
    Chair of the West Tisbury Affordable Housing Committee

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