Dukes County boasts a total of 3,799 “housing units,” for its 5,669 inhabitants, according to revised figures issued by the U.S. Bureau of the Census for 1940. At the time the tally was made 1,699 of the houses were occupied, 524 were vacant and for sale or for rent, and 1,576 were vacant for other reasons. The last group is “mainly vacant dwelling units held for absent households, together with a few dwelling units occupied by nonresident households.” The high percentage of vacancies in the county is due of course to the fact that the census was made before the summer season opened, and thus the figures can be compared only with those for counties which also have a large proportion of summer residents.
The percentage of the total number of houses which is for sale or rent here, is 13.8 per cent, while Barnstable County, which comprises the greater part of Cape Cod, shows the high percentage of 23.3, and Nantucket has only 7.1 per cent vacant for this reason.
The housing units in each Dukes County town, and the vacancies, are as follows:
Chilmark, 257 houses, 75 occupied, 32 or 12.5 per cent vacant and for sale or for rent, 150 vacant for other causes; Edgartown, 788, 423 occupied, 143 or 18.1 per cent vacant and for sale or for rent, 222 vacant and for sale or for rent, 40 vacant for other causes; Oak Bluffs, 1,534, 493 occupied, 144 or 9.4 per cent vacant and for sale or for rent, 897 vacant for other causes; Tisbury, 809, 564 occupied, 73 or 9 per cent vacant and for sale or for rent, 172 vacant for other causes; West Tisbury, 254, 85 occupied, 88 or 34.6 per cent vacant and for sale or for rent, 81 vacant for other causes.

Editorial: Census of Houses

The most recent report of the 1940 census on the Vineyard is that which tabulates the number of houses, and classifies them as occupied, vacant and for sale or for rent, or otherwise vacant. No such enumeration was made in the 1930 census, and there are no prior figures with which to compare these new totals.
Probably the greatest interest they have for the Island is that we have a count for the first time of the houses owned by summer people and unoccupied in the winter, and of the houses available for summer use. In the past there have been many estimates of the summer homes, but never anything like an actual account. Since the Vineyard is very much a summer resort, such statistics are valuable.
As was to have been expected, Oak Bluffs has the largest number of homes, not for sale or for rent, which are counted as vacant, the enumeration being made, of course, during the off season. This figure is 897. But in addition to this total, 144 houses are counted as unoccupied, and either for sale or for rent. It goes without saying that many of these are regularly occupied in summer by seasonal residents, and the whole number of houses available for summer occupancy in Oak Bluffs is not far from a thousand - an impressive total.
Edgartown has 222 houses unoccupied in winter, which are not for sale or rent, and Tisbury has 172, these presumable being owned by summer people.
Since the census counted a total of 3,799 houses in all the towns of the Vineyard, and classed 1,576 as vacant, on a seasonal basis, it appears that summer people own well along toward half the houses here. If one includes some of the unoccupied houses which are listed in another column, because they are either for sale or for rent, it is clear that non residents do own at least half the Island houses.
The census establishes, if it is correct, that we have 1,699 houses occupied during the greater part of the year, and 2,100 houses unoccupied.