After strong defeats in the three down-Island annual town meetings and a victory in West Tisbury last week, proponents of the controversial housing bank are turning their attention up-Island, where two more town meetings and a vote on the bank’s funding mechanism remain.

The proposal, which was placed by petition on all town meeting warrants, seeks home rule legislation to establish an Islandwide housing bank “for the preservation and creation of year-round housing.” Under the plan, the housing bank would be run by a commission with members from all Island towns. It would be funded with 50 per cent of the recently expanded hotel, rooms and short-term rental tax.

An advisory group for the housing bank campaign met privately Wednesday to discuss strategy in advance of the Chilmark annual town meeting next week and Aquinnah’s annual town meeting on May 14.

A spokesman for the group, Doug Ruskin of West Tisbury, said later that advocates acknowledge that adjustments need to be made to the plan, but that they would stay the course for the next two town meetings.

“We’re going to continue to talk it up; there’s not much different that we’re going to do,” he told the Gazette. He said those attending the meeting included Aquinnah residents Peter Temple and Derrill Bazzy, Chilmark resident Jim Feiner and Makenzie Brooks of Vineyard Haven, the group’s only paid part-time staff member. Meanwhile, the Island’s state legislators, Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Dylan Fernandes, said this week they will push legislation to create a housing bank on Beacon Hill even if only two of the six Island towns say yes.

Speaking to the Gazette by phone Wednesday, Mr. Cyr cited an email he and Mr. Fernandes sent to all the Island selectmen on April 5 after being criticized by Edgartown selectmen for filing legislation to create the housing bank in January, well before the issue was even placed on town meeting warrants.

Calling the bills “placeholders,” the email said the legislation was filed so that the legislature could act on it in the current session, depending on the outcome of town meetings. It went on to say that he and Mr. Fernandes “remain agnostic as to the specifics of the housing bank,” and could abandon or amend the legislation according to what Vineyard voters wanted.

“We said, if voters in all the towns were against the housing bank, it would stay in committee,” Mr. Cyr said. “Then if two or more towns vote to send us a home rule petition, we’ve got to honor that. So what we’ll do is work with the relevant towns . . . and I certainly would like to get input from other towns who would want to join in the future.”

Mr. Fernandes echoed the state senator’s comments.

“It’s up to the towns. West Tisbury said they wanted it. If Chilmark and Aquinnah say they want it, or one, then we’re going to work with those towns to move forward,” Mr. Fernandes said. “It’s totally up to the voters in those towns.”

But Island officials raised questions about what a housing bank would look like if only two or three towns were involved.

“I have no idea how a housing bank would work if less than a majority of the Island towns are for it,” said Edgartown selectman Margaret Serpa. “I thought that our elected representatives were supposed to be working with the towns, not against them. I am very disappointed to hear about this.”

Discussion of the housing bank consumed hours of debate last week in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and West Tisbury, where supporters and critics lined up at microphones to be heard.

Those who backed the plan called it a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the shortage of affordable and year-round workforce housing on the Vineyard and pay for it with money from one of its causes, the seasonal rental market. Opponents, including many of the Island’s selectmen and town finance committee members, criticized the measure as hastily drawn and called it an end-run around towns’ established budgeting process.

The measure was soundly defeated in Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and Edgartown. At the Edgartown annual town meeting selectman Michael Donoroma led the move to defeat the proposal, pledging to work with proponents and hold hearings over the next year on the issue.

By contrast in West Tisbury, the housing bank passed easily, but voters put off discussion of the funding mechanism until a special town meeting on April 30.

Mr. Ruskin said he was encouraged by the results, especially in Edgartown.

“It was Mike Donaroma who said, let’s talk about this more. And that’s all we were ever saying,” he said.

Mr. Donaroma said this week he had been contacted by housing bank proponent Steve Ewing of Edgartown and hopes to start planning meetings with the group after school vacation week. He said the meetings would be posted publicly.

According to estimates from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the new rental tax that takes effect July 1 could generate about $8 million in new revenue. Three quarters of that, or about $6 million, would be generated in the three down-Island towns of Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and Tisbury. Estimates for the three up-Island towns combined is $2 million.

Mr. Ruskin said the down-Island town meetings were a lesson in keeping things simple.

“We didn’t win,” he said. “But I am very encouraged by the fact that the conversation is ongoing. And I think the people who got this going feel, that however flawed the process may have been, we are committed to not letting the conversation die.”