On Page Ten in the August 5 Gazette, I read the Workforce Housing Partnerships “Who’s saving your life? No one without more year-round housing” advertisement. Wow. Heavy. Nice picture of the Gay Head ambulance with both doors open. I guess the sponsors think someone will send a big check.

Recently I abstained from voting for 10 two-family houses for upwards of $6.5 million at Keuhn’s Way, a Vineyard Haven project that is nicer than Farm Neck nestled on four acres surrounded by land bank land.

I was elected to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (not appointed) and I am up for reelection in November. Somebody has to move this situation along. My problem: This is not the answer to affordable housing. For $1,000 to $1,1000 per month rent, nobody would think about building their own house. The housing folks will maintain these apartments plumbing, heating, landscaping, the whole enchilada. The costs keep climbing for 20 lucky families who don’t have to pay anything but low rent.

Years ago, I presented a two-stage plan to the Island Clergy Group. Stage one gave a qualified couple or family keys to a manufactured home for around $1,200 a month. If the tenant paid rent on time, took care of the property, stayed as a family unit for 60 months, the tenant is given back $700 for every month ($500 went for upkeep.) That adds up to $42,000. Stage two, tenant receives piece of leased land with water, sewer, and electricity to build his house on, under guidelines, in a community not unlike the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. The $42,000, plus the family’s savings could build a good home.

Many times a year, my truck delivers Island retirees and vacationers to mobile home parks in southern states. Often they are called modular or manufactured home communities. They are well planned, landscaped and attractive. Many new homes are warrantied, guaranteed and have several contracts with their titles. All have the latest in appliances, heat pumps and air conditioning.

Every town on the Island has town-owned land. This simple plan could become reality.

Today, affordable applicants have to be qualified and interviewed in a different way by different people. They have to be ready to have two jobs, maybe a caretaking gig and drive a used car.

Meanwhile, drugs are as big a problem as affordable housing.

Access to affordable housing is a gift, and preference should go to the native-born.

When I was a milkman for the Co-op Dairy I lived in a trailer on Causeway Road in Vineyard Haven. Several of my friends also lived in trailers, and maybe they will come forward.

As a note, I think I am the only person who has converted a school (Wee Friends) into three affordable apartments at no cost to the bank, or any town or social agency. It wasn’t easy, but it worked and it can be done. Nicely.

Make affordable, affordable. Twenty modules times $30,000 equals $600,000.

Clarence A. (Trip) Barnes 3rd
Vineyard Haven