This project has been sponsored by Island Housing Trust, Rockland Trust, and the Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank.
No one on Martha’s Vineyard is too far removed from the housing crisis — even those people who own their own homes or have leased apartments. It’s right up there with climate change as the biggest issue facing the Island.
At The Times, we’ve seen colleagues forced to make the tough decision. Unable to afford an increase in rent or find stable year-round housing, they’ve made the decision to leave. It’s heartbreaking to see people make decisions to move away — not because they’re ready, but because they’re forced out.
We’re not alone. The hospital has lost doctors and nurses. Schools have said goodbye to teachers. Police departments and fire departments have watched as officers and firefighters move to jobs off-Island.
Even a good-paying, professional career is no guarantee that you’ll be able to find an affordable place to live on the Island. A surge in sales has driven the median price of homes toward $1.2 million, putting home ownership even further out of reach.
When we were brainstorming ideas for our next “Voices” section, the topic that came up the most was housing. We seem to tell a housing story in nearly every edition of The Times, but we don’t often hear directly from those affected by the ongoing crisis.
In this issue, you’ll hear from people who have successfully found year-round, stable housing, such as Mathea Morais, who is so grateful for the opportunity to have won a housing lottery. For every person like Mathea who wins the lottery, there are three or four families who miss out.
So close to the dream.
You’ll also hear from a couple of military veterans — Rick Benard and Kevin MacDevette — who have chased that dream of living on the Island, only to be forced to move to places more affordable.
The crisis affects young people like Garri Saganenko and Ksenia Meleshko. They’ve both found rentals on the Island, but the journey to get there was paved with bad experiences, like spending thousands to share a room. They also can’t help but wonder, How long will the stable rental last?
Housing is also an ongoing issue for many seniors who own property on the Island and would like to stay, but there are few opportunities for downsizing, and zoning restricts the kind of housing that would allow them to sell their homes and stay in a smaller apartment on their property. Suzanne Lindsey, a senior, has been trying unsuccessfully to find a permanent place to live. Her journey has included moving 23 times in nine years.
You’ve heard it before. It’s not easy even for professionals — teachers, firefighters, police officers have all had difficulty finding housing. Sometimes, like Forest Filler of Chilmark, whom you will read about, you just have to get lucky.
There are lots of pans in the fire aimed at improving the situation. There is growing support for the Coalition to Create the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank, as well as the state legislation that would provide a 2 percent transfer fee on properties to help fund it. In a recent editorial, we reported that Island Housing Trust has a project in the works in each of the six Island towns — a first for the nonprofit developer. In this section, we have a roundtable of sorts with some of the key stakeholders in the pursuit of housing on the Island, and we look at how the resort community of Aspen has found a way to build housing for workers.
We appreciate the commitment made by publishers Peter and Barbara Oberfest to these sections.
We appreciate the contributions of our dedicated staff — Brian Dowd, Rich Saltzberg, Eunki Seonwoo, Lucas Thors, and Geoff Currier, as well as our production crew of Kris Rabasca, Dave Plath, and Nicole Jackson.
Finally, we couldn’t do these types of single-issue special sections without our generous sponsors — Coalition to Create the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank, Island Housing Trust, Rockland Trust, MV Mediation Program, Cape Cod Five, South Mountain Co., and Feiner Real Estate.