Three Island residents walked away from the Tisbury selectmen’s meeting this past week with the opportunity to buy a home close to downtown Vineyard Haven for a dramatically reduced price.

It’s been two years since Island Housing Trust began the affordable housing project at 150 State Road. The Dukes County Housing Authority organized the lottery, held this past Tuesday night.

The three selectmen did the honors in turning the old wooden lottery box and pulling out, one by one, note cards inscribed with names.
Out of eight names vying for a one-bedroom, $145,000 condo unit, the first name drawn was Annette Moreis of Oak Bluffs. The unit was open to applicants with incomes not more than 80 per cent of the median income for the area.

Vineyard Haven resident Sally Sylvia’s name was drawn from a pool of six applicants for a two-bedroom unit offered at $208,000 to someone making no more than median income. Ms. Sylvia’s name was also picked from the two applicants for a $260,000 two-bedroom unit open to an individual or family making up to 120 per cent of median income. Median income for a family of four in Dukes County is roughly $72,000. 

Following the meeting, Ms. Sylvia opted to buy the larger, more expensive condo, putting John and Andrea Hirt of Vineyard Haven next in line for the opportunity to buy the $208,000 two-bedroom home.

The lottery winners, who have 30 days to secure financing from a lending institution, already have been pre-approved for loans.

“We feel confident that even though we may have had less applicants, that those applicants are in a good position to secure financing,” Island Housing Trust executive director Philippe Jordi said.

The fourth townhouse unit is a two-bedroom for $305,000, which was open to applicants making up to 140 per cent of median income. No one initially applied to purchase the home. Island Housing Trust now has one applicant who is in the process of securing financing.

Mr. Jordi attributed the lack of response both to the type of housing being offered, akin to a townhouse condominium, and to the need to do a better job of outreach.

“Some people don’t really realize that they could be qualified,” he said.
Preference was given to Tisbury residents, Tisbury employees and hospital workers for the three two-bedroom units. The one-bedroom unit was equally open to all Island residents.

“That was intentional, because we wanted to have a mix of those that have preferences and those that don’t,” Mr. Jordi said. “It’s often true that people don’t have a choice as to where they live,” he added.

The housing is located on a one-acre parcel of land, shaded by old hardwood trees. Island Housing Trust purchased the property in 2005 for $450,000 — about half the market value — from Eva Schiffer, the sister of the late George Schiffer and a close family friend of the late Kathryn A. (Cassie) Roessel, who wanted the property to be used for affordable housing.

While the trust was in the process of planning and permitting the project, Edgartown resident Michael Kidder was appearing before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for a permit to demolish his historic building at 7 Beach street.

Mr. Kidder ultimately donated the second floor of the Greek revival-style building to the project at 150 State Road. It became the second floor of one of the townhouses. A wood stove and other items from the house were donated to a Habitat for Humanity family and other reusable items in the house were stripped for future projects.

The housing project was also aided by a $250,000 grant from the Island Affordable Housing Fund and $150,000 from Tisbury’s Community Preservation Act fund. Contractors discounted their services as well.

“That combined made the whole thing possible,” Mr. Jordi said. A housewarming party is planned for July.