Chilmark considers buying homes for affordable housing 

Select board members support exploring the creation of a new group.

—MV Times

Chilmark town officials are considering buying homes before they hit the real estate market that would go to Islanders in need of affordable housing. 

Talks about the initiative took place at a Select Board meeting on Tuesday night. 

Town administrator Tim Carroll proposed buying a property that would be going up for sale in Chilmark soon, and he asked the board if there was an interest to acquire the property as a rental unit for the affordable housing. 

Board members Bill Rossi and Marie Larsen both agreed to further explore the option (board member Jim Malkin was not present).

Carroll also proposed the creation of a Political Action Committee (PAC), with the aim of helping Chilmark residents currently renting, to buy the properties before a home goes up for sale. 

There was some initial hesitation from board members about the idea, specifically over the finances. “I think a million dollars would be a big number for the town to pay for anything,” Rossi said of the hypothetical situation. 

He said that the town’s effort to help boost affordable housing has been geared toward vacant land, undecided lots, and letting a developer build housing. 

Other members of the public supported the idea, though, as did Larsen. “I think we need to do whatever we can to get more affordable housing,” Larsen said. “I think it’s a great idea.”

Rossi eventually agreed to look into the idea. He said that reaching out to the public with the proposal was a good idea, and he agreed to organize a group around that effort.  

The board also discussed coordinating with existing Island boards and other initiatives already centered around housing.

“I was hoping the selectboard could inform the [Chilmark Housing Committee and the housing bank or groups that are working together that this is a viable option,” Carroll said.

Rossi said that he would take that on.

Currently, the Chilmark Housing Committee works to provide affordable housing for town residents, as well as several projects in the past that have led to the development of affordable housing. 

The housing development on Middle Line Road was constructed in 2011 and offers 6 rental units, according to Jim Feiner, chair of Chilmark’s Housing Committee. 

Other Chilmark housing initiatives include the affordable housing development at Peaked Hill Pastures. The development is still underway, and would consist of 10 rental units, two “turnkey” owner units, and two homesites.

The town also runs a rental subsidy program to help keep properties going up for sale from turning into short term rentals, says Feiner. 

“We bridge the difference between Chilmark value on a year round rental and what someone can afford. That’s all vetted through the Housing Authority,” Feiner said. 

The housing committee works with all people to secure affordable housing within their means. The committee currently subsidizes at least four year-round rental houses.

According to Feiner, the town does not currently have a lot of official, affordable rental opportunities, but the committee is always looking for more ways to help.  

“In situations where people come to me, and have an extra house they’re not using, and they want us to help figure out how to convert it to a rental or ownership situation, that’s where we step in,” said Feiner. 


  1. Jenna, thanks for writing that article. Believe it or not, there are homes here, both in Chilmark and elsewhere that don’t get used much, if at all. If the owners are moved to help support the community, or a friend who might qualify, we have tools, perspective and experience that could benefit an owner interested to create some valuable community housing. We are always eager to talk with owners about scenarios and find solutions that can helpful. Jim Feiner.

      • Yes Mr Hess. Great idea. Move people into those empty houses 44 weeks a year and let them squat there while doing the jobs needed here on MV. During Communism in the Soviet Union, party officials stole homes from grandmothers in nice areas. We could do the same here. Spread out occupancy.

  2. Congratulations Carroll, as the former Interim Chair of the West Tisbury affordable housing committee I am thrilled to see this article. There are other communities in Massachusetts using this model to refurbish or out right buy existing properties for affordable housing. Some of the funding comes from the Short Term Rental tax that is used for affordable housing. This formula also protects the infra structure of the community that is already approaching what the island can handle.
    Providing housing without adding to traffic and the many other requirements that adding new properties is a win win for the island.

  3. Workforce housing I think is a future problem. This will only greatly increase the population here causing a huge increase in taxes becayse increased school expansion and other services. And over population on the Island. Seasonal houses pay taxes without the need for services. I say off island residences for workforce and a dedicated fast boat.

    • “And over population on the Island.”
      The State of Massachusetts has population density of 890 per Square mile.
      The western part is primarily rural.
      The Island winter population density is 208.
      The average on season overnight population is near the average state population.

  4. More great news on the affordable housing front. Extreme measures such as a new tax on Vineyard homeowners as set forth in the anti-environmental housing bank bill are not necessary. The Vineyard is addressing housing issues with plenty of sustainable solutions in the pipeline. The housing bank bill will result in increased pollution, overpopulation and overdevelopment. Keep Our Island Green

  5. “In the Pipeline”.
    What has changed over the last 40 years?
    Ever increasing housing problems!

Comments are closed.