About Us

The Island Housing Trust is a non-profit Community Land Trust organization that supports a diverse and vital community on the island of Martha’s Vineyard by creating and sustaining permanently affordable housing, both rental and ownership.  Our social justice roots are firmly planted in the Community Land Trust movement began in the late 1960’s during the civil-rights-era. A CLT is a mechanism by which land is held in trust and managed by a nonprofit, used for whatever a community chooses, whether that’s housing, small businesses, cultural spaces, gardens, parks, or farms. The land is owned by a trust, which keeps it out of speculators’ hands, but residences and other structures can be privately owned and inherited, allowing community members to build wealth.

Over the past decade, we’ve provided hope and opportunity to hundreds of low and moderate income island families seeking a dignified solution to their affordable housing needs. Together, we’re working towards a stronger, more resilient and sustainable future for our island community.

“This changed my life.” I’ve been told that several times over my years of helping to provide housing opportunities on Martha’s Vineyard. We can have such a profound effect because stable housing makes a real difference: I have witnessed beneficiaries of financially attainable units experience far less stress, their incomes stabilize and their children’s health and education improve. Folks are thriving rather than just surviving.  

Doug Ruskin, IHT Board President

Our Vision 2020 – Over the past ten years we have sold and rented 102 homes and apartments to low and moderate income families throughout Martha’s Vineyard.  Our goal is to create 100 new safe, stable, permanently affordable year-round homes by the end of 2020. To accomplish this challenging goal we need to raise $24 million by working in partnership with island towns, other housing organizations, and with the support of individuals like you. Together we can solve nearly half of our island wide housing needs within the next five years.

Our model is simple – We create and sustain permanent year-round housing that bridges the gap between the island’s high property values and families in need.  We lower the initial cost of homeownership by eliminating the land cost and a portion of the construction costs through grants and donations.  In exchange, our homeowners agree to a permeant deed restriction on their homes in the form of a Ground Lease. If they should sell their home, they sell it to another low or moderate-income family at an affordable price.

Our local partnerships are smart – We develop ownership and rental housing cost effectively and efficiently.  This strengthens the island economy by creating more local jobs. Successful projects that come in under budget and ahead of schedule serve as models of public/private partnership.  These partnerships involve island towns, land conservation organizations, the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, state housing organizations, local businesses and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

Our homes are models of sustainability – We design and build simple, durable, healthy, energy efficient homes that are affordable to purchase, own, and maintain for generations. Joint land purchases with the Land Bank have created clustered neighborhoods of affordable homes while permanently conserving surrounding open space.

Our commitment is perpetual Our nationally recognized ground lease model helps ensure homeowners’ success and their home’s permanent affordability through ongoing support and stewardship services for as long as they own it. This hands-on approach has helped safeguard against the threat of foreclosure and ensures that these homes on leased land remain affordable now and for future generations of island families.