Housing Fund Cites Achievements But Shifts Rent Assistance to Towns

Admitting the mistakes of the past and pledging a new future of transparency in their financial affairs, leaders of the Island Affordable Housing Fund took the floor at the Vineyard Haven library on Wednesday night and faced the public over what one member of the audience called a breach of public trust, when the fund defaulted on its payments to the county rental assistance program early this fall.

“How could you do this? There are single mothers using this rental program,” declared Penelope Dickens, a renter who also uses the program.

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Housing Fund Gifts Declined

Contributions fell sharply and cash evaporated while debt soared at the Island Affordable Housing Fund between the years 2007 and 2008, audited financial statements show.

And the public was led to believe that the fund was flush with money from fund-raising, when in fact the opposite was true, said T. Ewell Hopkins, executive director of the fund, in an interview with the Gazette yesterday.

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Housing Fund Runs Into Money Trouble

Revealing deep fault lines in its financial affairs, the Island Affordable Housing Fund announced abruptly this week that it can no longer pay for the county rental assistance program, pulling the rug out from under hundreds of Islanders who depend on the program for stable year-round housing.

The nonprofit fund not only has run out of money for the rental assistance program but is also in serious financial straits with its high-profile Bradley Square project in Oak Bluffs that drew Gov. Deval Patrick to the Island for a ceremonial groundbreaking in August.

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Island Affordable Housing Fund Names New Executive Director

He is a family man, father of three, physically fit with a passion for cycling, and a bit of history buff. And now T. Ewell Hopkins, who has been commuting from his year-round home in Oak Bluffs to work in mainland metropolises for the past 10 years, is happy to have more time at home on the Vineyard to be near his family, read and ride his bike on weekends.

But during the workweek he is occupied with a new job and a cause: raising money and promoting development of affordable housing on the Vineyard.

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State Rep. Tim Madden Joins Chorus of Critics Over Draft Oceans Plan

The draft Oceans Management Plan is a rush job, based on hastily-assembled data with little or no real analysis that is simply a means to an end: the rapid development of wind power generation in waters off the coast of Massachusetts, said Cape and Islands Rep. Timothy Madden this week.

And Mr. Madden said Vineyard residents are justified in their outrage at the plan, which effectively strips the Island of regulatory control over the development of wind power plants on the ocean that is its backyard, by diluting the powers of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

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Robert McNamara Leaves Island Legacy

Robert S. McNamara, the tragic and controversial former Secretary of Defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, who was most closely associated with leading the country into the Viet Nam War, died yesterday morning at his home in Washington, D.C., after a long period of failing health.

He was 93 and was a former longtime summer resident of the Vineyard.

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At the End of a Long Dirt Road Lies New Land Bank Property

Adding another gem to its emerald necklace of properties on Chappaquiddick, the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank announced this week that it has purchased 22 acres of native sandplain off Quammox Road. The property includes 550 feet of beachfront on the extreme eastern end of Katama Bay.

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Hospital Annual Report Details Lower Operating Gains, Investment Losses

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital ended its fiscal year with a sharp drop in operating profits, although with year-end gains well north of $600,000, the institution remains comfortably in the black, defying predictions early this year of an operating deficit.

And like virtually every person and institution with money invested in stocks and bonds this year, on paper the hospital lost an enormous amount of value — more than $3 million — on its protected endowment monies.

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Hospital Chairman Resigns N.J. Post

The chairman of the board of trustees for the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is mired in controversy at another hospital in Hackensack, N.J., where he has resigned his position.

John P. Ferguson, the longtime president and chief executive officer at the Hackensack University Medical Center, stepped down last week amid an unfolding scandal and federal corruption investigation.

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Vineyard Hospice Plans Expansion

Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard announced this week that it will join forces with a leading Cape Cod hospice organization, a move that will lead to expanded services including those covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance carriers.

The plan calls for Hospice & Palliative Care of Cape Cod to become affiliated with the Vineyard hospice, which will retain its independence. An independent nonprofit based in Hyannis, Hospice & Palliative Care of Cape Cod is the largest hospice organization on the Cape, with a $12 million annual operating budget.

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