More than 15 years ago, with an Island housing shortage on his mind, Fred B. Morgan Jr. took a drive out to Ocean Heights in Edgartown, a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of town. What he saw there helped set in motion the Island’s largest affordable housing development to date.

“It was a field, with a lot of acreage,” said Mr. Morgan, a former longtime selectman who turned 96 this week.

Next week is the 10th anniversary of Morgan Woods — the 60-unit housing development that Mr. Morgan helped create and that many see as a testament to Edgartown’s resolve in providing year-round rental housing on the Island.

The project stirred debate for years, but voters repeatedly backed plans by the town, including the allocation of 12 acres for affordable housing, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in appropriations. The $15 million project was funded largely by state and federal programs. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission, despite some misgivings about the effect on abutters and the Island character, unanimously approved the project in 2004, calling it a necessary compromise for affordable housing.

Ten years after Morgan Woods officially opened, Edgartown officials and others this week looked back fondly on the project, which set a new bar for affordable housing on the Island. But the project has had its own share of ups and downs over the years.

Complex includes 60 apartments — rented on a sliding scale. — Mark Lovewell

Edgartown worked with the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank early on to place a conservation restriction on a large tract of land it owned off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, with an area to the north reserved for municipal uses and an area to the south reserved for affordable housing. “That’s one of the reasons it was an attractive site for 60 units,” affordable housing committee member Christina Brown, who helped oversee the project, said this week.

The Community Builders Inc. (TCB) of Boston, which built and still maintains the project, said a total of 124 households have passed through since the opening — all of them relocating from elsewhere on the Island. Twenty-four of the units are now rented at market rate, with the rest subsidized through state tax credits.

“If this housing wasn’t available to the families that we house, their option would only be to leave the Island,” said property manager Quinn Retmier, who began work last year. Among other things, she has overseen improvements to a community playground and is now working with Island Grown Initiative to develop community gardens on the property.

Subsidized rents at Morgan Woods range from $852 for a one-bedroom apartment to $1,135 for three bedrooms, with the market rate units ranging from $1,350 to about $1,900 per month.

Town officials say Morgan Woods is mostly a success story.

The apartments were initially restricted to Edgartown and Vineyard residents. But John Economos, TCB’s district manager for the Cape and Islands, said a long wait list — typically around 150 families — and other factors of Island life have effectively limited the apartments to Island households over the years.

In its effort to retain tenants, TCB allows some flexibility when it comes to credit history, since people with lower incomes tend not to have good credit. “That’s probably our least important criteria,” Mr. Economos said. “Someone may have been affected by the economy back in 2009-2010,” he said. “They may have been foreclosed on, and their credit crashed. But that wouldn’t keep someone out of housing here.”

Morgan Woods put a significant dent in the need for year-round rental housing on the Island, but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. A large fire in 2010 damaged two buildings and left three families homeless at the time. At least three drug dealing operations have been discovered and rooted out by TCB and local police. But residents, town officials and others this week said the development overall has greatly benefitted the Island.

“If you took a cross section of 60 units anyplace on the Island, I think you would find issues,” said John McCarron, a special police officer in Chilmark who has lived at Morgan Woods since the beginning. “It really is a very decent place to live, and it alleviates a housing crunch for a lot of families and a lot of people. The concept is fantastic.”

John Chivers and family fell on hard times and are facing eviction. — Mark Lovewell

Public opinion appears to have shifted since the early 2000s when Morgan Woods — then known as Pennywise Path Affordable Housing — was still an idea. Mr. Morgan recalled that some Islanders feared the project would resemble others on the mainland that were not well maintained. “They were afraid that it would be a typical housing project,” he said. “But we had assurances from the people that built it that they would take care of it, and they have.”

On a quiet morning this week, a worker was busy sprucing up a playground in a large grassy area surrounded by houses and manicured lawns on the property. Unlike other housing developments on the Island, Morgan Woods has both a full-time property manager and groundskeeper, and a resident service coordinator on the mainland who helps tenants with everything from rent budgeting to locating elder services.

Mr. Economos said a new company program called Fresh Start aims to help retain tenants in seasonal communities, where they might not be used to occupying the same dwelling all year, and where monthly payments can prove a challenge in the winter. He drew attention to the fact that no one has moved out of Morgan Woods in the last 18 months. “In the apartment business that is just unheard of, that kind of stability,” he said.

But as with many housing developments, not all tenants have been satisfied with their experience.

Ted Morgan, a former selectman who turned 96 this week, was the driving force behind the housing project. — Mark Lovewell

John Chivers, who moved into Morgan Woods with his three kids after winning a housing lottery in 2011, leaned on a crutch surrounded by cardboard boxes in the house where he is being forced to leave at the end of the week. After being injured on the job last year, he said he fell behind in his rent and was served an eviction notice. He eventually obtained an extension, he said, but even after having back surgery and eventually paying the overdue rent, he still has to leave.

He recalled a moment early on when his kids fell off their bikes a few houses down and neighbors came to the rescue. “I was the third person at the scene,” he said. “There were parents there already with band-aids. It feels sometimes almost like a neighborhood from the 1950s.” He said that sense of community only makes it harder to leave.

Mr. Economos was unable to comment on specific cases, but he said no other households at Morgan Woods were currently facing eviction. With the exception of the last 18 months, he said an average of three to five apartments are vacated each year, almost always voluntarily. Still, almost a quarter of Morgan Woods residents have been there from the beginning. “We win far more than we lose in cases where we try to help people succeed,” Mr. Economos said. “But unfortunately we can’t always succeed.”

From an affordable housing perspective, at least, town officials this week roundly praised Morgan Woods as an important milestone for the Island.

“I think that Morgan Woods showed everybody that it could be done,” said Mark Hess, chairman of the Edgartown affordable housing committee, which among other things is planning 32 rental and six ownership units on Meshacket Road. He said the tendency on the Island now is to focus on smaller projects, but with a similar cluster design.

“When people can see concrete examples of what a community can do, you are not wondering what something would look like,” said Arthur Smadbeck, an Edgartown selectman.“You’ve got it, and it’s working and people are living there. It’s a living, breathing part of Edgartown.”

Mr. Morgan hoped other towns would follow suit, but he also acknowledged that the Island’s affordable housing problem is likely here to stay.

“I think the towns do everything they possibly can — all the towns do — to assist in providing affordable housing one way or another,” he said. “A lot of people still desire to come here but can’t find affordable housing . . . It’s still an issue.”