For the first time ever on Thursday, a Vineyard school bus made a stop at 801 State Road in Aquinnah.

From left, Island Housing Trust project manager Derrill Bazzy, Aquinnah selectman Juli Vanderhoop, housing trust executive director Philippe Jordi. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Out walked 12-year-old Laina Benoit, backpack and smiles in tow, ready to cut the ribbon on the official opening of her new home.

“We’re so excited,” Laina’s mother Nancy said. “You don’t think you can own a home on the Vineyard. Now we do.”

The Benoit’s new home was a decade in the making.

When Helen Mays sold her property on what’s now called Smalley’s Knoll at a discounted price to the town, selectmen and voters decided the land would be a good opportunity for an affordable housing project. With that in mind, they donated the purchase to the Island Housing Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to creating sustainable housing opportunities for low-to-middle income Islanders.

Then the trust, with the help of Island banks, contractors, and architects, worked to finance and design two single-family homes on the site. They held a lottery for qualified applicants to purchase the homes for $255,000, and broke ground on construction in December.

That was 10 months ago. Now, what was once a vacant lot with a few junipers has been converted to a permanent and indelible future for two Island families.

On Thursday that future became the present.

“We can’t wait to move in,” said Sarah Ives, whose family is buying the north-south facing home on the land. “We’re currently living out of boxes with my aunt, so we’re ready.”

At the groundbreaking in December, the Ives’s son Louie was barely bigger than the palm of his mother’s hand, crying in her arms throughout the ceremony. But the tears were gone on Thursday afternoon, as the one-year-old waddled around the property, exploring the site of future playdates, birthday parties and barbecues.

“It’s just so nice when I can see the community come together in any way,” said selectman Juli Vanderhoop. “We’re holding our neighbors and community members together, and watching them grow as we do.”

Louie and Laina will have lots of room for growth in their new homes. The shingled structures have fully-finished kitchens with an attached living space, two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor. Five of the six acres on the property were set aside for conservation, and Community Preservation Act money will help create a public trail behind the homes. Williams Building Company, a Falmouth-based contractor responsible for the project, left the upstairs and basement unfinished so the families could adapt the spaces to their personal needs.

Community gathering celebrated two new affordable homes. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“Over time, as we can afford it, we’re going to finish the basement and add a bed and bath upstairs,” Ms. Benoit said.

The upstairs already has heat, electric and plumbing

“The idea is that we’re trying to come up with these prototypes we can reuse,” said Philippe Jordi, executive director of the Island Housing Trust. “It’s not that they’re unfinished, we want people to be able to do what they want with the space, make it their own. We put a lot of thought and work into this one, but hopefully we can make the next ones even better.”

The housing trust recently completed a project in West Tisbury called Scott’s Grove, and is currently in the middle of developing the Greenwood Townhouses in Vineyard Haven.

The basements of the Smalley’s Knoll homes, although unfinished, have pre-insulated fiberglass walls. Because they are “panelized,” it took little time for Williams to line them around the foundations, allowing the contractors to make quick work of an initially troublesome construction site.

Derrill Bazzy, who works for the housing trust, helped with the design of the homes.

“This was one of the most difficult sites that I’d seen in my entire life,” Mr. Bazzy said. “There’s topography, all those storms in the winter, and the recent rain, I can’t believe Williams got it done.”

As Mr. Bazzy thanked the town, the selectmen, and the Aquinnah planning board for their work on the project, he told the crowd about a surprise phone call he received earlier Thursday morning. It was from Helen Mays, the property’s former owner, who hadn’t been on the Island for three years. She told Mr. Bazzy she was coming into town and wanted to see the homes.

“I was like, oh my God, another Aquinnah moment,” he said. “The stars aligned.”

Although Ms. Mays didn’t make an early enough ferry to attend the ribbon cutting, Mr. Bazzy said the call just reinforced his feelings for the Aquinnah community.

“Those of us lucky enough to live in this town knows this stuff happens all the time,” he said. “It’s about community. It’s about stability. It’s about continuity. This is going to be a home for people in this town for the next 100 years.”