West Tisbury voters will weigh in on an initiative to promote private affordable housing in town at their fall special town meeting next week, along with deciding on a series of minor funding articles.

The meeting will take place Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium at the West Tisbury school, with a quorum set at 139 voters.

The marquee event of the evening is a request for the town to contribute $250,000 to a pilot program offering up to $25,000 in forgivable loans for town residents to develop accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on private property. 

Supporters say the program is designed to help property owners create new, year-round housing opportunities to help ease the Island’s housing crisis. 

ADUs can include in-law apartments, garage apartments, basement apartments and other similar dwellings. 

An article for the program, developed by the affordable housing committee, was slated to be on the annual town meeting warrant in April, but the select board removed the article after determining it was not ready to be presented to voters.

Since April, housing committee chair Jefrey DuBard said, the committee has worked with the select board and Martha’s Vineyard Commission housing coordinator Laura Silber to revise the article and accompanying project guidelines. 

“It really was just a question of communication,” Mr. DuBard said. “Talking it through with a whole ton of people who have all been incredibly valuable in getting to where we are.”

In addition to supplying loans for pre-development costs of building an ADU, the revised program also includes a plan to hire a program administrator. 

“It is really just a program to offer a little bit of help for someone to do something that can be an incredibly valuable tool to create housing,” Mr. DuBard said.

ADUs in the program are not to be rented for short-term rentals, and a deed restriction would be placed on the property. 

Town treasurer Kathy Logue previously raised concerns about funding for the program, which would raise the town tax rate 1.3 above what was previously approved.

The town finance committee voted unanimously to support the ADU article. 

Another home rule petition on the warrant would allow the town’s affordable housing trust to use community funds for community households earning up to 150 per cent of the area’s median income. The trust is currently restricted to aid people who make up to 100 per cent of the area median income. 

At the meeting on Tuesday, town residents will also vote on a series of smaller funding requests, including $20,00 for the town legal budget and raises for the fire chief and town clerk.

Mr. DuBard said the housing committee is planning a Zoom public information session on the proposed ADU program at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.

The full warrant can be found here. The guidelines for the ADU program are on the town website.