Marking a key step in the concerted push to create a housing bank on Martha’s Vineyard, a draft warrant article was unveiled at an online public forum Saturday morning.

More than 70 people attended to hear the presentation by a coalition formed last year to press for passage of legislation at the state and local level that would allow a housing bank modeled after the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank.

Still in draft form, the lengthy article is expected to appear on annual town meeting warrants next spring.

The coalition has been working all summer to gather support among a wide range of local officials.

“The purpose of our sessions, our forums, last spring and again today is to refine the language,” coalition steering committee member Doug Ruskin said at the forum. “The warrant article says draft all over it and we really mean it. This is all about listening to you and making things as good as we can, and as acceptable to as many people as possible.”

The meeting saw many questions and comments and also strong support for the concept.

Under the current proposal, the housing bank would be funded by a two per cent transfer fee on real estate sales over $1 million. The fee would be paid by buyers.

A housing bank commission would include seven elected commissioners, one from each town and one elected at large. The commission would review proposals and grant funds for affordable housing initiatives to public entities, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and individuals, according to the draft.

“Generally it would be organizations proposing projects, developers proposing projects, not necessarily individuals, although that’s not excluded,” Mr. Ruskin said.

The commission could buy, sell, or lease land, but would not be authorized to develop or manage properties.

“It’s not going to be an operating organization,” Mr. Ruskin said. “The purpose of buying land is simply to be able to make it available for redevelopment and restriction.” But the commission would also be granted autonomous powers, similar to the powers vested in the municipal housing trusts that exist in almost every Island town.

“The purpose [is] to be able to act nimbly,” Mr. Ruskin explained. “The real estate market can’t wait for a town meeting vote to spend some money, and today the municipal housing trusts . . . have the ability to buy land in the open market.”

Similar to the land bank, there would also be six town advisory boards.

Funds would be available for projects targeting people who make up to 240 per cent of the area median income, which is $178,000 for an individual, a sizable increase from the current 100 per cent eligibility level used in current state and local programs.

The income threshold was a significant point of discussion at the forum, with some speculating that six-figure earners don’t need affordable housing, and others worried that without proper messaging, the figure could give the impression that the program does not focus on people on the lower end of the spectrum.

“How was it determined that [240 per cent] was the correct number? Frankly that seems a little high to me,” asked John Rau, who attended the forum.

Coalition coordinator Laura Silber said the figure is based on a housing bank model developed in Aspen, Colo. in 1989. She said in that resort community the bar was set high in anticipation of continuously increasing housing prices.

“Aspen didn’t need to really focus on units at that range, but as their housing situation worsened and the area median home price . . . continued going up, their legislation did allow them the flexibility to create inventory at that level,” Ms. Silber said.

Still, Mr. Rau asked rhetorically whether it made sense for someone who makes $250,000 to be eligible for assistance.

Steering committee member John Abrams said that’s where the housing bank commission comes in.

“The people that are elected . . . their job is going to be to spend that money as wisely as possible and to give subsidies in proportion to need,” Mr. Abrams said. “So even if the housing bank determined that somebody at a very high income under the 240 [per cent] needed a subsidy, they would probably give a very small subsidy in comparison to what they give for somebody at 150 [per cent] or somebody at 100 [per cent].”

Steering committee member Kimberly Angell said there are people who make too much money to qualify for assistance under current programs, but not enough to afford a house on their own — and those people are leaving the Island.

“While it may be that the need is greater [on the lower end],” Ms. Angell said, “it does not mean there isn’t a great need at the higher end also.”

Nevertheless, funds would be focused on people who make the least amount of money and therefore need help the most, Mr. Ruskin said.

“It is a shortcoming of the current language that we have not prioritized low-income [families], so I think we’ll really be thinking about this” Mr. Abrams added.

Under the proposal, funding would be restricted to projects for year-round occupancy, Mr. Ruskin said.

“Year-round housing is the problem,” he said. “We know that attainable year round housing is simply not available, there’s just no inventory, at almost any price that most folks can afford.”

Priority would be given to projects that repurpose already-developed land, that are close to existing services, and which address climate change and water quality.

“One of the concerns we heard very loud and clear very early on was, where are we going to put all these new houses? Well, it’s not only about new houses,” Mr. Ruskin said.

The Island has lost 600 units of year-round housing over the last decade to short-term rentals and seasonal housing, he said, referring to a study by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

“The point here is that if we can recapture some of those properties and then restrict them, we don’t necessarily have to build new [ones].”

The housing bank would expire after 30 years unless it is renewed by a majority of the six towns.

Other potential changes to the draft based on feedback at the meeting include:

• Clearly stating the range of income levels served and priorities within that service range to make it clear that low-income households are the priority;

• Specifying that the housing banks pays its own expenses;

• Deciding whether housing bank commissioners would be paid;

• Deciding whether to add a definition of year-round occupancy.

The goal is to have a final draft of the warrant article ready by late December, Mr. Ruskin said.

“I just want to thank everybody for your interest, your support, and your activity,” he said. “This is really a community effort and it’s going to work because of that.”