Harbor Homes withdraws homeless shelter bid

Harbor Homes formerly used the Martha's Vineyard Community Services' campus for an overnight winter shelter. The group is withdrawing a request before local regulators to open a facility in Oak Bluffs. — MV Times

Just days after a contentious hearing when neighbors voiced their concern, Harbor Homes announced they have withdrawn a request before Oak Bluffs officials to operate a winter homeless shelter on Hudson Avenue.

Harbor Homes officials issued a release on Sunday saying that additional permitting presented an obstacle, after the Oak Bluffs zoning board (ZBA) voted to refer the project to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

“The ZBA voted to send the proposal to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for DRI, which would have significantly delayed the nonprofit’s ability to fulfill the terms of its contract to purchase the home, presenting insurmountable costs and challenges,” Sunday’s release stated. “Harbor Homes also took into consideration the expressed opposition from local neighbors.”

The organization also noted objections from residents in the neighborhood of the proposed facility.

“Given the outspoken opposition from neighbors on Hudson Ave., Harbor Homes staff realized it would not make sense to place at-risk individuals in a location where they are not welcomed into the neighborhood to build trusting relationships,” the release stated.

The nonprofit had entered into a contract to acquire 21 Hudson Ave., formerly used to house employees from the Pequot Hotel and the Harbor View Hotel; the final sale was contingent upon a special permit approval from the zoning board.

The organization was before the Oak Bluffs zoning board on Wednesday where neighbors voiced a number of concerns, from noise to the safety of schoolchildren.

Harbor Homes officials had said earlier this year that they are scheduled to operate the winter shelter in a building they rent from Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, but will not be able to after this upcoming winter because the building will be demolished for Community Services’ expansion.

The organization is asking for the public’s help in locating a new location.

“Recognizing that Islanders without stable housing need physical and emotional safety provided by a winter shelter, the Harbor Homes staff invites any member of the public who wants to help us find the next home for the shelter to contact us with connections or ideas for potential sites that are appropriate,” the release stated.

“The housing crisis has forced increasing numbers of families, workers, and Island neighbors into unstable housing. Shelter Director Lisa Belcastro and other volunteers made a considerable impact on the audience at the meeting by sharing stories of the people served through the program, offering supporting evidence to eliminate the stigma that can be attached to individuals facing a state of homelessness. Contact hello@harborhomesmv.com to get involved with Harbor Homes’ mission or to share resources that may help in their search for a new winter shelter location.”


  1. Ok– Let’s put plan “B” into action.
    Any willing homeless people should be able
    to get a free round trip bus pass to Palm
    Beach Florida. Leaving anytime before
    Jan 1 and returning no later than June
    1. It would be more compassionate
    to assist them in getting to a warm
    climate and cheaper for the Harbor Homes
    project. I will donate the money to
    Harbor Homes for one round trip ticket.

  2. By “majority” I guess you mean the handful of NIMBY neighbors ……..and by “Minority” you mean the people (including some born and raised on the island) that can’t afford housing on the island…

    • Who cares if you were born and raised on the island?? Homeless people for the most part need mental health help. Instead we shove them into a shelter for a few hours each night in the winter and pat ourselves on the back. As much as we virtue signal left and right the truth is we are not the compassionate community we pretend to be. Shipping off the migrants from Venezuela in less than 48 hours can attest to that. Welcome to America……let us take you to the boat. Good luck wherever you end up, it just can’t be here.

      • John– some are more compassionate than others.

        But let me give you some credit for your
        comment about how you could really care less
        about what happens to these people.
        it really shows what an uncaring individual
        you really are. It takes some degree of
        courage to publicly display such a lack of empathy,
        compassion and sympathy on this island.
        We, as a community, after all , seem to have a
        collective compassion for those who may be
        falling on hard times. Hopefully, you will never need
        any help, but if you do, you can be sure that
        if I am able, i will offer whatever I can to help you out.

        • Keller, Axel did not say he doesnt care about homeless people. Not once. You are prevaricating. He said they need mental heatlh and we dont do much for them.

          • andy– he starts off with “who cares”
            ok —tell me I took it out of context.
            Just trying to speak your language and
            walk your walk.
            But even in context, do you really think
            Axel actually cares ?
            Do you actually think that I think
            you care ?
            come on–
            I believe you might want to care,
            like you want to be a good steward,
            and all those homeless drug addicts
            want to get that monkey off their backs
            but as the right wingers here point
            out, they are mentally ill, more likely
            to commit crimes and leave their used
            needles on the sidewalks.
            But let me ask you, andy, are you
            in favor of the government spending more
            money on mental health treatment,
            drug addiction prevention, and affordable
            housing ? How about Axel… He’s on record here
            as opposing all of those.
            By the way… you didn’t tell me about
            what your comment “Biden/Fetterman
            2024 a no brainer” was in reference to.
            I really want to know.
            OR– I’m curious to know what Sam
            said about your account being hacked.
            I wouldn’t my my account to be hacked
            after all.

      • “Shipping off the migrants from Venezuela in less than 48 hours can attest to that. Welcome to America……let us take you to the boat. Good luck wherever you end up, it just can’t be here.”

        None of this is true, though. The Vineyard community was not in charge of the transfer to the Cape. We have no authority. You already know that, as it’s been discussed many times.

        The migrants who arrived here last year were free to go where they wish, and a few chose to come back for good. Of course no one stopped or discouraged them. That’s silly.

        Most later participated in the reunion. Why would anyone want to celebrate/visit/move to a place that, as you claim, rejected them?

        They wouldn’t.

        I agree with you and Jackie that MV’s self-reported compassion is often overblown, but in the instance you’re referring to, a lot of help was provided.

  3. This is unfortunate. I have advocated for siting of homeless shelters before many permitting boards across Massachusetts. The opposition is both predictable and common. There is an agreement that we need such services, but just not near the home of the person objecting. Homeless people pose little or no risk to neighbors. They are desperate people in need of safe shelter and generally other supportive services. Without safe shelter they are left to fend for themselves in cars, in our forest, in quiet corners of neighborhoods at night. Sometimes they just die. Martha’s Vineyard can do better than this.

    • Hmmmm……….I guess we have special homeless folks here who aren’t like homeless folks in other parts of the country.
      “San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and her office released a report detailing crime rates in homeless versus non-homeless populations from 2019 to 2021. For felony-level offenses, the DA’s office discovered that homeless individuals were up to 514 times more likely to commit crimes.

      Worse, homeless individuals who commit a crime are often repeat offenders. Stephan’s report showed 98% of homeless individuals cited for a crime had two or more new cases filed against them. “

      • John– actually, homeless people here are
        different from homeless folks in other parts
        of the country.
        For starters ,they are not living in an inner city,
        they have organizations like Harbor Homes to
        provide support and assistance, and they live
        in an area where there is an affordable
        housing crisis.

        Thanks for putting something
        verifiable up. I looked it up, and the
        numbers are pretty bleak. Of course that
        514 times number was in reference to arson
        , the highest. I wonder if burning trash
        in a trash can to stay warm is considered

  4. We must not over generalize homeless folks. Some are in need of mental health but all are in need of a warm safe place to sleep on cold winters nights. I pray that Harbor Homes finds a location to put its permanent shelter and that our island, finds it in their hearts, to allow for it to happen.

  5. When has Obama started a way to help illegal emigrants have housing in his neighborhood by building cheap homes on the island and for the workers also. Such a bs’er.

  6. What a shame. HH response was on target. Why would they want to set up a warm place to have a meal and sleep for those who don’t have one in a neighborhood so unwelcoming. All would be wise to check out the facts of how HH has operated their shelter near schools and other neighborhoods…perhaps then they would be more welcoming.

  7. Mike– I agree– there is even guy here who
    “wants ” to be a good steward of the earth.
    Reminds me of the line by Gillian Welch ;
    “I wanna do right, but not right now”
    From the song, “Look at miss Ohio”

  8. I hope I don’t appear to disparage in any way the hands-on, dedicated helpers for the homeless on the island and elsewhere. Really, though, the self-congratulatory, moral superiority of the liberal left has never hit me as hard as it has these last few weeks— mostly because, as recent events have proven, it’s not real.

    People who do the work are the most unlikely to get on social media and brag about what they would do “if”. Seriously, even Mother Theresa was no “Mother Theresa”.

    I said the following in my last comment under a thread that the Times has now closed, but it bears repeating here: There’s a Yiddish expression that translates to, “I’m not talking to anyone specifically, but if you think I am talking to you, you are exactly who I am talking to”.

    • I could not agree with you more. Because the island is the bubble of all bubbles, everything that happens or is said there is watched closely by many in the rest of the country, especially the undecided voters. I will let you come to your own conclusions about the outcome of this, but the only thing that keeps me up at night is having a madman again as our president.

Comments are closed.