Water Street – Design Meeting

All those interested in creating affordable rental opportunities in Vineyard Haven are invite to attend a meeting at 5:00 on Monday, May 13th at the Vineyard Housing Office located at 346 State Road in Vineyard Haven (behind the Tisbury Farm Market).

The purpose of the meeting to discuss design ideas for a property recently donated to the Island Housing Trust at 6 Water Street (between Stop and Shop and AA Island Auto Rental). We value your input as neighbors and members of our community.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Philippe Jordi at 508-693-1117 or at pjordi@ihtmv.org

Island Housing Trust Certified CDC

The Island Housing Trust recently received certification as a community development corporation (CDC) from the state Department of Housing and Community Development.  CDCs are non-profit, community-based organizations that anchor capital locally through the development of residential and/or commercial property, ranging from affordable housing to local businesses. Similar to other CDCs, the Trust’s board composition includes a cross section of the island community including its homeowners, municipal government representatives, and the community-at-large members.   As part of its business plan, the Trust plans to apply to the state for Community Investment grant and Tax Credit funds. The Tax Credits will allow businesses and individuals to invest in the Trust’s plan to create and sustain permanently affordable homes island-wide.

“We’ll be working in partnership with island towns, other housing organizations, our homeowners and renters, and island residents over the next six months to develop a community investment plan that will address how we plan to create and steward affordable rental and homeownership opportunities for working island families and individuals over the next decade,” said Philippe Jordi, director of the Trust. “We’re excited about the possibility of local businesses and island residents personally investing in the Trust through this state tax credit program that we’ll be applying for later this year,” said Richard Leonard, president of the Trust.

In other news, the Trust also recently announced the addition of four new board members representing Trust homeowners at its annual board meeting, including: Elizabeth Loucks, Richard Jacobs, Sheetal Reubens, and Marc Schoenfeld.  Ms. Loucks is the Southeast Massachusetts land steward for The Nature Conservancy, Mr. Jacobs works for the Up Island Regional School District as the West Tisbury school custodian, Ms. Reubens works for the Town of Tisbury Department of Public Works as their administrative secretary, and Mr. Schoenfeld works for the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital as their facilities assistant.

At the annual meeting, treasurer Dan Seidman announced a record year for the organization thanks to growing public and private support of over $1.7 million in grants and donations, the sale of four homes and ground lease of six properties, lease fees from over 50 properties, and professional service fees – all part of the organization’s business plan to diversify its revenue sources.  As the leading non-profit developer of affordable housing on Martha’s Vineyard over the past eight years, Mr. Seidman points to the Trust’s strong partnerships with the island towns and banks, the Land Bank, Habitat for Humanity of Martha’s Vineyard and the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, as well as a new collaboration with the Island Grown Initiative to develop farmworker housing at their recently acquired Thimble Farm property.

To download a copy of the organization’s annual report or to find out more about the Island Housing Trust, visit www.ihtmv.org or call the office at 508-693-1117.

West Tisbury Affordable Housing Awarded

The Vineyard Gazette reported this week that two young West Tisbury families were the happy winners in a lottery held this week for two new affordable homes.

Spencer Binney and Lizzy Kent, their baby daughter Willow and her brother Levi will move into a home at 619 Edgartown-West Tisbury Road next month. Jason and Darcy Neago and sons Tristan and Griffin will be their next-door neighbors.

The lottery took place at the town selectmen’s meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The two three-bedroom energy-efficient houses on three acres were built by South Mountain Company for the nonprofit Island Housing Trust, which developed the project and holds a ground lease on the land. Families and individuals earning between $47,200 and $67,450 were eligible for the lottery; the houses are being sold for $225,000. The selection process included preference for larger household size and people living and working in town, housing trust executive director Philippe Jordi said at the meeting.

Land for the project was donated by Kristian Strom, financing was provided by the Edgartown National Bank.

“We wish our homeowners the best,” Mr. Jordi said.

Dukes County Regional Housing Authority executive director David Vigneault, who handled the applications, thanked the trust and the town for their efforts.

Tisbury Affordable Housing Awarded

The Martha’s Vineyard Times reported this week that Beth McElhinney was selected by lottery to purchase a $225,000 townhouse. Calvin and Geneva Corwin were selected as the homebuyers for a second townhouse, valued at $184,500, without a lottery under a family preference option and income guidelines.

The townhouses are two of six in a cluster of three duplexes that comprise Tisbury’s Wentworth Way affordable housing project, a public/private partnership spearheaded by the Island Housing Trust (IHT).

IHT executive Philippe Jordi and chairman of the board Richard Leonard thanked the town for its support and the many people who made it possible.

Housing Needs Study Shows Island Aging, Poverty Rising

The Vineyard Gazette reported this week that “there are consistent problems when it comes to housing needs on the Vineyard: an affordability gap, caused by high housing prices in a largely seasonal community paired with low wages, has long made it hard for year-round residents to rent or own housing on the Island.

The article goes on to say that an updated housing report conducted by Karen Sunnarborg entitled Martha’s Vineyard Housing Needs Assessment” shows that some problems are shifting, as are potential solutions. There is increasing poverty on the Island and a rising number of older residents and single-member households, the study found, calling for an emphasis on rental units over home ownership.”

This assessment is the first of three to come, Ms. Sunnarborg said. While this first draft looks at background research and market trends, the next document will look at existing organizations that provide or produce housing on the Island. The third and final document will look at future projections, and “what organizations as well as the information in the housing needs assessment suggests are the best avenues for meeting the affordable housing agenda going forward on the Island.”

The first phase provides a look at the problem. “The Island’s average weekly wage was 71 per cent of the state average, the median home price was 54 per cent above the state’s and the median rent exceeded the state’s by 17 per cent,” the report states. “This in essence describes the Vineyard’s affordable housing problem.”

The report found that Vineyard poverty levels were lower than the state average, but poverty is nonetheless on the rise here. The numbers of individuals or families in poverty almost doubled between 1990 and 2010, and almost tripled in the case of those 65 years of age or older. Poverty levels decreased, however, for children under 18 and female-headed households with children.

The Island has declining numbers of people 24 to 44 years of age, the report said, and a dramatic increase in the number of residents between the ages of 45 and 65. There is also an increasing number of smaller households, with one-third of all households consisting of individuals living alone.

“There is a pressing need for a great number of smaller units to accommodate a growing population of small households,” the report states.  Ms. Sunnarborg said the new goal of producing 50 units of affordable housing each year “still might be too ambitious.”