Wouldn’t it be great for all Islanders and our real estate community to unite to preserve our housing and our community together? I think it’s the only way. As a real estate broker working on affordable housing for 20 years I can say there is no silver bullet that will solve the problem or create the solution we need.

Our housing market is under pressure of an intensity we’ve never seen. We are at record low inventory levels and there are only about 18 homes for sale under $1 million. The first year-round home is in the mid 600s and at that price there’s a lot of work to do. Land is evaporating and rising in price fast. Significant numbers of year-round and seasonal affordable rentals are going off the market as some owners either are using their homes or selling them to take advantage of the strong real estate market. Many Islanders trying to buy homes here are being outbid and outmaneuvered by wealthier second home buyers looking for a safe place to go and investment buyers looking to maximize profits. The sad truth is you can be doing great on the Vineyard and still not be able to buy a home.

Something has to be done. Actually several somethings.

For homeowners thinking about selling, before you put your home on the market, please consider offering it to Islanders first. It’s not necessarily going to be a huge compromise on your part, nor would you take less money but it could go a long way towards keeping people on the Vineyard. Brokers are inundated with hard-working Islanders who cannot find an opportunity or get a break. Lots of buyers today are qualified and the banks here are working double time to help make things happen.

For real estate brokers, when you are taking lower end listings, say under $800,000 for example, please talk to your sellers and ask them if they would like to see their home sell to somebody local. They know there’s a housing crisis. The only risk is to not sell at the absolute top and instead do something that helps preserve the community. Maybe one day we’ll have some subsidies to bring pricing down and allow us to buy market rate homes and reprice them for Islanders but that day is in the future. Over the past few years, on two separate occasions I’ve asked my sellers if they would consider selling to local Islanders, and both times they said yes because they are aware of the terrible housing problem we have here. Even if it’s for 30 days — Islanders only, that’s a small effort that can make a big difference. Let’s give the locals a chance. Let’s call it the MV30. Owners have the right to choose and it is not a matter of discrimination, it is a matter of self preservation. It can be beneficial to the community, the agent and the owner.

Yes, we need to build more homes but building isn’t the only or best solution. We also need to create systems in place to keep the homes from selling out of the market and keep the people locally in a position to compete, keep the rentals rentable and affordable so people can have a quality of life that comes with home security. We have one big issue that needs major work: zoning. We need Islander-friendly zoning that allows more homes in tighter clusters, we need to be able to take existing homes and turn them into multi-family buildings so we have more rentals. We need to accept that the solution to creating more or better permanent Islander housing is going to require us to be a little more uncomfortable. We need a consistent revenue source like a housing bank that supplements or eliminates the constant need for the housing agencies to reach out to the benevolent members of Vineyard society annually hoping for large checks.

My last ask is to the community at large and all the people who stand to benefit from changes in the housing situation. That might be the businesses as well as all the next generations to come. It’s time to stop being passive and wait for everyone else to solve the problem for you. The solution to this longstanding, out-of-control problem requires all of us to get involved. Here’s your action plan: talk to your town selectmen and use your voices. Write letters to the boards, the MVC and join a movement, be tenacious and consistent. It’s not a lot of time but it is a commitment to change that requires widespread effort — it’s a power in numbers kind of thing.

My hat is continually off to the many wonderful people who daily confront the housing crisis and try to make it better. However, if you look at the people trying to solve the problem of affordable housing on Martha’s Vineyard, most of them, if not all, already have houses. Their voices are strong but the truth is that the change we need is bigger than them and It’s in the interest of you, me and the long-term future of the Vineyard that we join together and unite in a positive way for change. We need you.

Jim Feiner is the owner of Feiner Real Estate in Chilmark.