The state Department of Housing and Community Development has presented an alternative to plans that would have greatly stemmed a key source of funding for low and moderate income households on the Island. A new one-year plan for the state community development block grant (CDBG) program issued late last year contains more subtle changes than first proposed in August. But additional changes are likely in store.

The block grant program provides more than $1 million each year for the six Island towns. About 85 per cent of the money goes toward housing rehabilitation, while the rest is for child care. Changes last year were aimed at distributing the funds more evenly across the state, but would have put the Island at a disadvantage to the state’s metropolitan areas.

Alice Boyd of Bailey Boyd Associates on Scituate, who administers the funds for the Cape and Islands, said the revised plan is a welcome compromise, but could still rock the boat. “We haven’t seen changes this significant in quite a few years,” she said. “And we have been forewarned that next year they will reevaluate it and it will likely be dramatically changed.”

But for now at least, the skies have cleared. Among other things, the plan outlines a revised method for scoring applications, with maximum limits on certain funding categories, and no bonus points for regional applications. Ms. Boyd said the changes would mean stiffer competition for the Island, but she was grateful that regional applications themselves are still allowed, since Island towns often apply together. A provision for low and moderate-income communities will serve as a tiebreaker among competing communities.

“There are many towns in the commonwealth that continue to apply and never get funded and are very frustrated and I understand that,” Ms. Boyd said, explaining the rationale of the earlier proposal. “Then they see our Vineyard towns get funded every year, so there was a very big push for these other towns, to make them more competitive.”

Unlike in the past, the application process will not require funding activities to be limited to certain neighborhoods, which Ms. Boyd sees as a big improvement. “We have people of low and moderate income scattered throughout our communities,” she said, adding of the change: “That’s huge for us. That’s terrific.”

Towns will have five years to submit self evaluations for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which to some may seem like a tall order, since many towns don’t already have such a plan, and many plans are outdated.

Overall, Ms. Boyd welcomed the one-year plan as a reflection of public concern. Last year every town on the Island, along with Dukes County and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, sent letters asking the state to reconsider its proposal, which among other things would have limited applications to either housing rehabilitation or child care vouchers, and would not have allowed funded communities to apply in consecutive years.

“Hats off to the DHCD because they really listened,” Ms. Boyd said, noting that many other towns across the state had also expressed concern.

The plan estimates a total of about $19 million in community development funds for the state this year, but that may change based on the federal budget. (The program is funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.) “We don’t know if there will be even a penny, because we have a new administration coming in,” Ms. Boyd said, noting that President George W. Bush had tried in the past to eliminate CDBG funding from the federal budget. “We could see this zeroed out,” she said.

Oak Bluffs typically applies jointly with Tisbury, and Edgartown with West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah. Ms. Boyd anticipated two such applications this year, adding Gosnold to the mix. But she said Chilmark might not make the cut, since it’s financial need amounts to a lower score. She planned to finalize the list next week, and to schedule a series of public hearings to gather ideas for the grant proposals. Hearings in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs will likely be scheduled for late February or early March.