As proponents of a Martha’s Vineyard housing bank seek support for an Island-specific initiative, Nantucket has been working to pass some kind of housing bank legislation since 2016, with the latest version currently stalled in committee on Beacon Hill.

“It’s the same home rule petition we have filed in each session going back to 2016,” said Tucker Holland, housing director for the town of Nantucket, speaking to the Gazette by phone Thursday. “In the past the bill has gotten favorable recommendations [but never come to a vote] . . . in this session it has not moved out of committee.”

The Nantucket bill, HB 4201, filed in January 2021 by Cape and Islands Rep. Dylan Fernandes and Sen. Julian Cyr, was referred to the Joint Committee on Revenue in October. No hearing date has been set.

The Nantucket bill is one of eight home rule petitions currently pending in the state legislature, all created to allow individual communities to impose some kind of transfer fee on real estate transactions to fund affordable housing. In addition, there are two statewide bills that would allow cities and towns to opt-in to a flexible state model.

Both HB 1377, filed by Rep. Michael Connolly of Cambridge, and HB 2895, filed by Rep. Fernandes and Sen. Cyr, would allow cities and towns to impose a fee of between 0.5 and 2 per cent on real estate transactions to support affordable housing.

Mr. Holland said the smart money at the moment is on the statewide bills.

“I think it’s unlikely that our home rule petition would go through on its own given that you now have Boston and Chatham and Truro and Concord and Brookline and any number of other communities [having filed home rule petitions]. . . and that the Vineyard will be likely to follow,” he said, adding:

“The emphasis right now is on passing statewide enabling legislation that gives communities entirely the option to opt in or not.”

While the aims of both the Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard housing bank initiatives are similar, there are key differences between the Nantucket home rule petition and the draft proposal to create a Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank now making its way to the annual town meeting warrants on the Vineyard. They include:

• The amount of the transfer tax (0.5 per cent on Nantucket versus two per cent on the Vineyard);

• The sunset clause (10 years on Nantucket versus 30 years on the Vineyard);

• When the fee would kick in (on sales over $2 million on Nantucket versus sales over $1 million on the Vineyard);

• Income thresholds for housing subsidy recipients (175 per cent of average median income, known as AMI, on Nantucket versus 240 per cent of AMI on the Vineyard);

• Who pays the tax (seller on Nantucket versus buyer on the Vineyard).

And while it is informally being called a housing bank, the Nantucket home rule petition would actually send the funds directly to the town of Nantucket to be deposited by the town treasurer with the Nantucket Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Unlike the Vineyard, Nantucket has only one town.

Mr. Holland said the home rule bill is modeled closely after the Nantucket land bank. “That entity exists, we said let’s not reinvent the wheel,” he said.

He said the $2 million home sale threshold was based on the average sale price of a single-family home on Nantucket, now over $2 million. “We don’t want to be affecting the folks whom we are trying to help here” he said. Mr. Holland said that if the legislation had been in place last year, it would have generated more than $5 million.

Income thresholds were developed based on research and a desire for diversity in housing, a consistent theme in affordable housing projects on that island, Mr. Holland said.

“We have people at a variety of income levels who perform a variety of functions including public safety, air traffic control, barista . . . a whole spectrum of folks,” Mr. Holland said. Using Nantucket’s AMI (a family of four earning $122,000), the 175 per cent threshold would allow a housing subsidy for a family of four earning $215,000.

Mr. Holland said the decision to adopt a seller-paid tax began with the fact that the land bank fees are paid by the buyer.

“The rationale there was, a buyer pays two per cent from the first dollar . . . here we are half a per cent on an amount over $2 million,” he said. “Part of the thinking is that it’s an equitable approach . . . the land bank coming in, and this on the exit.” But he said detailed research was also done looking at the appreciation of the average home price since the inception of the land bank in the 1980s.

Using rough numbers, he said the results were eye opening.

Nationwide the average home price had increased 140 per cent. Boston, which had a hot market, had increased 550 per cent. On Nantucket the average appreciation was more than 800 per cent.

“So the idea that a seller is taking half a per cent from that incredible appreciation and contributing it toward [better housing for Nantucketers] made sense,” he said.

Mr. Holland said the half per cent fee itself was arrived at after widespread community debate and discussion.

“Candidly it was a community-negotiated exercise,” he said. “That’s the level at which folks from around the universe on Nantucket — including the real estate contingent, which is an important player — that’s where we ended up. And that’s what town meeting has unanimously supported three times.”

If the legislature opts to pass one of the statewide local option bills instead of Nantucket’s home rule petition, Mr. Holland believes the fact that Nantucket voters have already agreed to a structure can serve as the island’s opt-in.

“The effort is all being put into passage of the state enabling legislation . . . towns across the commonwealth can benefit from it,” he said. “We just think it makes a ton of sense. It doesn’t take a dime out of state coffers, it’s completely elective on the part of the municipality as to whether they want to participate.”