The Martha's Vineyard Housing Bank

Jen Hawkins O'Hanlon, REALTOR®


The Coalition to Create the Martha's Vineyard Housing Bank (CCMVHB) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving the Island community by establishing a Housing Bank that provides significant permanent funding to advance year-round housing. The coalition believes that a housing bank would provide a crucial tool to help address the housing crisis on Martha's Vineyard, where high property values and limited housing options have made it increasingly difficult for local residents to find affordable housing. 

A housing bank is a public or private financial institution that provides funding for affordable housing projects. The CCMVHB proposal involves creating a public entity that would provide low-cost financing for affordable housing on the island. The housing bank would be funded through a small surcharge on property transactions, which would be paid by buyers of real estate on Martha's Vineyard.

Some people believe that a transfer tax on top of the 2% land bank fee that buyers are already responsible for will be too much of a hardship to those looking to buy real estate on the Island. Therefore, it has been suggested that part of the land bank fee could be used to aid in our affordable housing issue. However, it would require changes to state legislation, as the Land Bank's funding and purpose are governed by state law.

To change the funding allocation of the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank, a new piece of legislation would need to be introduced and passed by the Massachusetts state legislature. This would involve a lengthy and complex legislative process, including committee hearings, public comment periods, and votes in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Additionally, any proposed changes to the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank would likely face opposition from those who believe that the organization's funding should be solely dedicated to land conservation efforts.

The proposal for the housing bank has received support from a variety of stakeholders, including local businesses, community leaders, and residents. Nobody can argue that there is a true housing crisis on the Island and something drastic needs to be done. Additionally, supporters argue that the lack of affordable housing on Martha's Vineyard is a major obstacle to economic growth and social equity on the island. By creating a housing bank, the coalition hopes to repurpose existing properties, make it easier and more affordable for developers to build new affordable housing units, and aid residents in purchasing homes.

It's important to note that the first $1,000,000 of every transaction is exempt and the MVHB commissioners will be required to review this threshold annually and raise as needed to be certain it has little impact on local primary home buyers. Here is some more information about the Housing Bank and several common misconceptions.

In January 2022, a group of legislators in Massachusetts introduced a bill that would allow the creation of regional housing banks in the state. The bill would authorize the establishment of up to ten regional housing banks across the state, each with the ability to issue bonds and accept deposits to fund affordable housing projects. The CCMVHB has been working closely with legislators to ensure that the bill includes provisions that would allow for the creation of a housing bank on the island.

Currently, the CCMVHB has organized a day of action on Thursday, March 23, 2023 called "MARTHA GOES TO BEACON HILL" to show support for the housing bank bill. They have chartered private buses to Beacon Hill and will meet with key legislators, hold a rally on the capitol steps and then bus back to make the 5pm ferry in WH (arriving in VH around 5:45pm).

All are welcome and they will provide everyone who signs up/shows up with:
FREE round-trip ferry service
FREE round-trip bus service 
FREE food 
A FREE long sleeve t-shirt to wear

This event falls on a Thursday, during legislative working hours – which also happen to be the working hours of those most affected by the housing crisis/whose attendance would mean the most. To reduce this friction they are calling upon those businesses and institutions who are supporters to encourage/ enable their employees’ attendance. 

Overall, the CCMVHB is continuing its efforts to establish a housing bank on the island, and is working with legislators in Boston to advance its goals. If the legislation is passed, it could provide a significant boost to affordable housing efforts not just on Martha's Vineyard, but throughout the state of Massachusetts.


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