In perhaps the most wide-ranging study of Island housing problems to date, a collection of housing production plans was issued this week, detailing the needs, strategies and obstacles for each Island town and for the Island as a whole.

The plans aim for a total of 223 new affordable housing units on the Island — mostly rentals for low-income households earning up to 50 per cent of the area median income — with a goal of 10 per cent affordable housing stock by 2036. Opportunities for increased funding and land acquisition are clear priorities in each town, followed by zoning changes and other initiatives.

Spearheaded by the all-Island planning board last year, the plans lay a foundation for future housing efforts, but do not hold towns accountable for meeting the goals.

Towns that have a state-certified housing production plan and create a certain amount of affordable housing in a given year can reject some comprehensive 40B developments that could otherwise bypass local regulations by providing affordable housing. Each plan for the Island outlines the annual goals for gaining such control, but the interest centers more on helping plan for the future.

More homes needed for people with low and moderate incomes. — Alison L. Mead

“We think the towns on Martha’s Vineyard are doing this because they care about housing, and they really want to continue to approach it in a thoughtful way,” said Jennifer Goldson of JM Goldson community preservation + planning, who drafted the plans and presented them at a series of public meetings this week. “They are not in the same position as these other towns in Massachusetts, where they are seeing a lot of these hostile 40Bs.”

The plans draw from an Islandwide housing needs assessment in 2013, along with a series of public workshops last year to identify goals and strategies in each town. The plans also include comprehensive updates to the 2013 needs assessment.

Town planning boards and selectmen will now review the plans, taking additional public comment this winter, before submitting them to the state Department of Housing and Community Development for approval.

The housing goals for most towns target rental units for low and moderate income households, although Aquinnah’s need focuses more on home ownership. (Only Aquinnah has already met the 10 per cent goal, largely as the result of tribal housing.) Five-year goals range from five new units in Aquinnah to 68 units in Oak Bluffs. The plans set additional goals for home ownership targeting households earning between 80 and 100 per cent of the area median income. (The median income for a family in Dukes County is about $86,000, although the thresholds also depend on family size.) Across the Island, rental housing for low-income residents was the top priority.

Not surprisingly, every Island town hopes to maintain its unique character while increasing housing opportunities over the next 10 years, according to information collected at the public workshops. Chilmark, for example, highlighted the importance of maintaining its rural character and connection to the past while providing appropriately scaled housing for young families and elders. Oak Bluffs focused more on smaller units and smaller lots, along with workforce housing and adaptive reuse to preserve social diversity and historic neighborhoods.

Across the board, funding and land acquisition remain the biggest obstacle to new housing, Ms. Goldson said. Among other strategies, towns are considering whether to increase their annual allocations for state Community Preservation Act funding, up to 80 per cent of which can be spent on affordable housing. Each town is also considering regional funding sources, such as an Islandwide housing bank that would involve increasing the fee on property transactions now collected by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank.

Other funding strategies include establishing a tax on seasonal rentals to generate funds for affordable housing. Every Island town except West Tisbury has a local rooms tax for inns and hotels, but the state currently does not allow a tax on seasonal rental property. As with most of the other Islandwide initiatives identified in the plans, a tax on seasonal rentals would require an act of state legislature — and a concerted public effort among the six Island towns.

Zoning rules present both an obstacle and opportunity, as current bylaws may alternately limit or expand options for affordable housing. Progressive zoning rules already create housing flexibility in many Island towns, but additional changes could make it easier to develop accessory apartments, multi-family housing and other developments, and also to protect natural resources, according to the plans. Islandwide, accessory apartments were the top candidate for new zoning rules.

But Ms. Goldson stressed the importance of funding and land acquisition above all else.

Plans highlight importance of collaboration. — Alison L. Mead

“Unique to this resort community is the level of seasonal housing, and how much that really impacts the market,” she said. “And that’s a big reason why money and land is more important than zoning here.”

Along with the funding and zoning initiatives, town residents have helped identify town-owned properties that could possibly be used for development, and opportunities to pursue private land donations. As part of its affordable housing policy, for example, the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank occasionally works with property owners to set aside land for affordable housing. (The land bank has also agreed to act as a collection agency for the proposed housing bank.)

The plans detail many constraints to housing development on the Island, including the quality and filtration ability of soils, and a decline in the quality of Island ponds, which suffer from an overabundance of nutrients, mostly from wastewater. Among other things, the entire Island is considered a sole-source aquifer. The Oak Bluffs and Tisbury wastewater treatment plants have both reached their capacity, the plans note, with Edgartown anticipating a similar situation in 2035.

Overall, the plans highlight the importance of collaboration, in part because resources often cross town lines. All the strategies are presented as a package, rather a menu, Ms. Goldson said at the meeting in West Tisbury this week, since they are designed to work together. But when it came to regional planning, she said, the Island was already a step ahead. “It’s easier because you are already thinking Islandwide,” she said.

The draft housing production plans, along with the Islandwide plan and updates to the 2013 housing needs assessment, are available on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission website,