The all-Island planning board has launched a major initiative to create affordable and community housing on the Island.

More than 25 officials gathered at the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging Wednesday to adopt a regional charter with a goal of creating hundreds of affordable housing units over the next 10 years.

The charter centers on the creation of state-certified housing production plans, which provide a framework for identifying and achieving housing goals. Nantucket’s housing production plan, adopted in November, involved Islandwide zoning changes to help facilitate more affordable housing.

Of the Vineyard’s 7,894 year-round housing units, about nine per cent are considered affordable for people earning less than 80 per cent of the area median income. But only about five per cent are considered permanently affordable, and qualify toward a state target of 10 per cent affordable housing stock in each town. That leaves a shortfall of 379 units on the Vineyard.

The housing production plans cover a five-year term, and require annual progress of .5 per cent toward the state inventory target. At that rate, the Island as a whole could reach the state goal in just under 10 years.

Only Aquinnah has already reached its goal. Other towns would need to develop between two and 11 units per year.

Down-Island towns would need to develop more units since they have more houses in general, but Chilmark and West Tisbury would need to develop a higher percentage each year.

Planning officials on Wednesday pointed out that Vineyard housing needs also include community housing (defined as affordable for people earning up to 150 per cent of area median income) and summer housing. Some also advocated for so-called tiny houses, which are typically less expensive due to their size.

The state currently certifies housing production plans only at the town level, but Island officials hope to eventually consolidate their efforts into a regional plan. “It depends on how successful we are in getting the state to see this as a unit,” said Henry Geller, a West Tisbury planning board member who presented the charter.

He added that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the Island’s regulatory and planning body, made the region somewhat unique and may affect the planning process.

Members of a regional working group, appointed by their town planning boards, will coordinate each individual plan with other town officials. They will also collaborate with each other and work on regional solutions. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission and Island Housing Trust, along with the Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative, have agreed to pursue funding to hire a consultant to help get the process started. MVC executive director Adam Turner, who attended the meeting, said he thought there may be some state funding available for affordable housing research.

Others pointed out that achieving the 10 per cent housing inventory goal could help leverage state funds for each town.

Mr. Heller noted the differences between up-Island and down-Island and suggested a tradeoff system where towns could share the burden of providing affordable housing. One town might be willing to have a bigger building in return for single-unit housing in another town, he said, offering one example.

“If we can work as an Island, obviously that’s better for everybody,” said Dan Seidman from the Tisbury planning board, who suggested a system where towns that end up with more students as a result of the charter could send some students to other schools as a trade.

Most people on Wednesday seemed to favor collaboration, although many questions remained. Marie Doubleday of Oak Bluffs noted differences in median income from town to town, and urged a balanced approach.

“We don’t want one town to get slammed because of where we stand with collective AMI versus other towns,” she said.

Cheryl Doble of Tisbury emphasized that starting with a town-by-town effort could help each working group see how the different pieces fit together and provide a more detailed understanding when it comes to the regional efforts.

Other concerns focused on economic issues, such as how to provide affordable housing in a way that would still attract developers. Brian Packish of the Oak Bluffs planning board suggested mixed projects where some units were affordable and some market rate.

“There is an awful lot of resources here on the Island, but at the end of the day most of the people want to see a return, and a fairly significant one, on their dollar,” he said. “I think it’s going to become a blended approach.” He also pointed to issues of scale, and the question of how many new units would be optimal for attracting new tenants.

Board members shared a sense that the town and regional approaches could happen simultaneously and benefit each other along the way.

The board voted unanimously to accept the charter and move forward. But the path forward is forming with each step.

Mr. Heller wondered if the all-Island planning board, an unofficial group, had enough authority to adopt the charter. But Mr. Seidman, who helped lead the charter effort, took a more egalitarian approach. “I was just was of the mind that if we chose to come together, then that sort of is the charter,” he said.

Robert Fehl of Oak Bluffs urged a more structured approach, so that the various groups would know what to fall back on, and a voting system to facilitate Islandwide decisions. “To do that we’ve got to have something written down,” he said. Discussion will continue at the next meeting in February.

The working group members are:

Dan Seidman of Tisbury, Brian Packish of Oak Bluffs, Henry Geller of West Tisbury, Peter Temple of Aquinnah, Sam Hart of Chilmark and Georgiana Greenough of Edgartown. Island Housing Trust director Philippe Jordi, along with MVC executive director Adam Turner, who helped develop the charter, will provide staff support.