A campaign to establish a Martha’s Vineyard housing bank using revenues from the new short-term rental tax is running into stiff opposition in some Island towns.

The Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank Campaign has successfully petitioned every Island town to place two warrant articles before voters at annual town meetings this spring. One article would establish the housing bank by home rule petition via the state legislature, while a second article would create an elected board to receive and administer funds, modeled somewhat after the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank.

Although it has been tried before on the Island with no success, the housing bank initiative picked up fresh steam early this year following the passage of the short-term rental tax.

The new law is expected to generate significant revenue for Island towns that adopt the allowed add-ons to the state room tax — although how just much revenue the tax will generate remains unclear and will differ by town.

Nevertheless, housing bank advocates want to tap some of the revenue to address the affordable housing crisis they say negatively affects many aspects of Island life. The proposal calls for using half the revenues generated from total rooms taxes in every town to go toward a housing bank.

But elected town leaders who have concerns of their own about rising annual budgets and capital spending needs, have been less enthusiastic.

The latest pushback came from the Oak Bluffs selectmen, who voted this week to send a letter to Cape and Islands Rep. Dylan Fernandes strongly opposing the initiative.

“As you know, our community continues to struggle to fund core local services within the limitations of Proposition 2 1/2,” the letter says in part. “Due to a number of factors at both the state and local level, our local services are stressed.” Signed by all five selectmen, the letter outlines a litany of short and long-term financing needs in Oak Bluffs. With increasing pressure on property taxes as a result, selectmen said they anticipate needing the added revenue from the short-term rental tax “to alleviate some of the burden . . . and the pressures it has on taxpayers.”

Makenzie Brookes, left, pitches the housing bank idea in Edgartown. — Noah Asimow

The letter says the housing bank campaign by its own estimates would take more than $1 million annually from the Oak Bluffs general fund. “Their estimates are at best questionable but nonetheless would prove to be an excessive and extreme penalty to our community,” the selectmen wrote.

The letter also notes that the town is “well aware of the housing issues facing us,” and criticizes the housing bank campaign, suggesting it is backed by real estate interests.

“Throughout their brief tenure, those involved in the campaign failed to officially meet or even consult with local officials to determine housing needs or strategies,” the selectmen wrote, adding: “It appears that they maintain a self-appointed, closed committee which has received substantial funding from real estate development interests to pursue funding on a grand scale without any attention to town needs or input.”

Oak Bluffs is not the first town to push back on the housing bank initiative.

At a meeting in January Tisbury selectmen had a lukewarm response.

“I’m not in favor of this,” selectman Tristan Israel said at the time. “I think your intent is great and a different model of land bank I have supported in the past . . . [but] it feels like the ink hasn’t even dried on the governor’s pen when it feels like this kind of grab . . . everybody, we’re working toward housing. The idea of a housing bank would need some more time and thought . . . Tisbury is not a wealthy town.”

Last week the Edgartown selectmen raised their own concerns.

“We’re talking about priorities,” selectman Arthur Smadbeck said. “We have this short-term rental. We don’t know how much it’s going to be. It would be fiscally imprudent to just take half of it before we know what it’s going to be.”

This week Makenzie Brookes, a manager who is running the campaign, said she was somewhat surprised at the reaction from the selectmen. She pointed to a nonbinding referendum at 2017 annual town meetings that saw overwhelming support for the housing bank in five towns. And she disputed the notion that the group has not consulted with town officials.

“I’ve been surprised at how resistant the selectpeople have been to hearing us out and giving us the benefit of the doubt,” Ms. Brookes said. “You would have to be asleep or dead to not know that this is one of the most serious challenges that our Island as a community faces. Of course we have to do something about it. What’s being done by the towns is not enough. I think everybody knows that. Here we are trying to address it and the overwhelming tone of the selectmen has just been negative. That was a surprise to me. We’re trying to do a good thing. We’re trying to help our communities stay alive and thrive, and you’re treating us like we’re thieves trying to steal your candy. That has been a disappointment for sure.”

She also strongly disputed the claim by Oak Bluffs that the campaign is backed by real estate development interests.

“The idea that we’re funded by a large real estate developer to pursue funding on a grand scale without any attention to town needs or input is just not true,” Ms. Brookes said. “It’s funded through some private donations. I don’t know why they would be so bold as to make a statement like that when they have no idea who’s funding this campaign.”

At the request of the Gazette, Ms. Brookes listed the financial supporters and members of the campaign. She said the financial backers are:

John Abrams, Sue Silk, Randi Baird and Philippe Jordi, Pamela Scott, Doug Ruskin, Dan Seidman, Ted Jochsberger, Richard Leonard, Kira Sullivan, Derrill Bazzy, the Island Housing Trust, and Robert Sawyer. (Ms. Brookes clarified later that Mr. Sawyer has provided lunch at his restaurant and a space for the group to meet).

She said two additional anonymous donors have contributed less than $1,000 to the campaign.

Ms. Brookes said members of the campaign are: John Abrams, Renee Balter, Derill Bazzy, Makenzie Brookes, Abbe Burt, Keith Chatinover, Steve Ewing, Jim Feiner, Victoria Haeselbarth, Philippe Jordi, Ted Jochsberger, Richard Leonard, Elaine Miller, Greg Orcutt, Doug Ruskin, Robert Sawyer, Larry Schubert, Sue Silk, Kira Sullivan, Peter Temple and Peter Vincent.

Housing bank advocates plan to host a public forum on the proposal on March 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the high school Performing Arts Center. Representative Fernandes and Cape and Islands state Sen. Julian Cyr are expected to attend.

Edgartown plans to host a listening and public comment session March 13 at 6 p.m. at the town library.

Mr. Fernandes and Mr. Cyr are coincidentally holding a town hall meeting on Monday at the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven. That meeting begins at 5 p.m.