Here are two words that are perfectly innocuous when standing alone, but always seem to raise hackles when put together: affordable and housing.
The term seems to evoke images of tenements and crack houses. And to be fair the history of affordable housing efforts on the Vineyard is not without hiccups. But the paucity of shelter that even middle-income people can buy or rent is indisputable and well documented. What makes the Island so attractive to summer visitors puts the price of real estate out of reach for many hardworking year-round residents.
Island Housing Trust, which under the leadership of Philippe Jordi is doing its best to live up to the third word in its name, this week welcomed new residents to its newest development, an attractive cluster of townhouses on Lake street in Vineyard Haven.
Built on the community land trust model, the houses are sold to eligible residents who earn between eighty and one hundred per cent of the area median income, but the ground beneath it is retained by the trust. The homeowner can sell the house, but the trust ensures that it is kept perpetually affordable. The two new duplexes sold for one hundred and eighty-four thousand dollars and two hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars.
It took a village to develop the overall project, including a five hundred and eighty thousand-dollar Community Preservation Act grant from the town of Tisbury and a total of nearly a million and a half in construction and homeowner financing from Edgartown National Bank, according to Mr. Jordi. The townhouses were designed by LDA Architects of Cambridge and MacNelly Cohen Architects of West Tisbury. Chilmark builder Farley Pedler of Drews Cove Builders constructed the homes, using local subcontractors such as John Keene Excavation, Jared Brissette Electric and Nelson Mechanical Design.
Attractively landscaped and modest in size, the Lake street townhouses were also built for maximum energy efficiency with triple glazed windows, air source heat pumps and heat recovery ventilators. The up front investment in state-of-the art green technology will help ensure that maintaining the homes is affordable too, Mr. Jordi said.
Developments like Lake street won’t solve all of the Island’s diverse housing needs, but it’s a promising model and an excellent example of why affordable housing need not be a pejorative term.