Speakers from Massachusetts communities as diverse as Somerville, Hadley and Martha’s Vineyard were among a chorus of people at a hearing Tuesday united in their call for legislation to address a statewide problem: lack of affordable housing.

Convening online, the Joint House-Senate Committee on Housing heard two and a half hours of testimony on two dozen bills that would address the issue in different ways. The committee took no action on any of the bills during the hearing.

But the majority of comments were in support of a pair of identical bills, H. 1377 and S. 868, that would give cities and towns the option of imposing a transfer tax of up to two per cent on certain home sales to support affordable housing.

The bills were co-sponsored by the Island’s state legislators, Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Dylan Fernandes, and have the support of the Coalition to Create the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank. Testifying Tuesday, coalition coordinator Laura Silber told housing committee members that while the Island has a reputation as a playground for the wealthy, 40 per cent of its workforce makes less than 80 per cent of area median income.

“Islandwide, we have a $781,000 affordability gap between the median home price and what median income Island families can afford. In Chilmark, that affordability gap is a staggering $1.3 million,” she said.

On Monday, the Edgartown select board agreed unanimously to submit a letter of support for the transfer fee legislation at the request of Ms. Silber. The coalition is also drafting town meeting warrant articles to create an Island housing bank, but the select board declined to endorse the concept before seeing the actual articles.

“Before I vote to support something, I’d like to know what it is,” select board member Art Smadbeck said. “So since that’s not critical at this point in time, if that’s okay with you guys we will leave that to getting worked out before we can offer any support to it.”

The bills on Beacon Hill are similar to proposals filed in past legislative sessions that died in committee, but the sponsor of the House bill, Rep. Michael Connolly, said the issue of affordable housing has grown more widespread in recent years.

Mr. Connolly, who represents parts of Cambridge and Somerville, said some 12 cities and towns have already filed so-called home rule petitions this year, seeking legislative permission to deal with the affordable housing issue in their own way, and more such petitions are expected.

“It speaks to how important it would be for us to work on enabling legislation to help meet this extraordinary demand for resources that will allow us to pursue affordable housing projects,” he said.

Unlike the home rule approach, H.1377 and S. 868 would create a statewide framework that any town could adapt to its own needs and adopt by majority vote at town meeting.

For example, the bill would allow towns to impose a transfer tax on property purchases of anywhere between 0.5 per cent and 2 per cent of the sale price on either the buyer or the seller or a combination of the two. Properties that sell for less than the state median sale price, now about $530,000 would be exempt, but towns could also set a higher threshold. Property transfers within families would also be exempt. The bill also allows municipalities to impose a higher transfer tax to discourage “speculative sales,” that is, sales of certain higher-priced properties within one year of their purchase.

“In the big picture, this is a really flexible proposal that is really aimed at allowing cities and towns to capture some of the wealth that is being generated in this very hot real estate market,” Mr. Connolly said.

Currently, 38 states and various local governments, including Washington, D.C., levy some kind of real estate transfer fee, ranging from 0.01 per cent in Colorado to 6.1 per cent on certain sales in New Jersey, according to Abhidnya Kurve, a policy associate with Boston-based Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association.

“Massachusetts will not be an outlier if we do implement this legislation,” she said.

Rorie Woods of Hadley testified that much of the new development in her rural community in the five-college area has been “trophy homes” that are unaffordable for local workers.

“Lifelong members of my town, many of whose families have been in Hadley for generations, are being priced out of it,” she said.

Addressing the lack of affordable housing on the Vineyard, Ms. Silber offered a litany of statistics illustrating the scope of the issue:

• The median home price on the Vineyard is now more than $1.2 million.

• Only 38 per cent of the housing stock on the Island is available for year-round occupancy.

• As of last week, there were no year-round rentals available, according to the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, and more than 700 people are on a waiting list for affordable rentals.

• Some 450 people are on a waiting list for affordable home purchases.

“As an Island with seven miles of ocean between us and the mainland, commuting is not a realistic solution, especially when we have weather like this,” Ms. Silber said.