Gov. Maura Healey’s his toric Affordable Homes Act, a $4 billion statewide housing plan unveiled in October, includes a local option transfer fee, a critical step toward achieving the goal of establishing a Vineyard Housing Bank. The act is now in the hands of the state legislature.

The Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank began work on this effort in 2020, and Island towns unanimously supported the effort the 2022 town meetings and ballot votes. But there are three important ways that the Affordable Homes Act differs from the MV Housing Bank supported by voters in the six island towns.

The first is that although the state act mentions “regional housing commissions” it does not contain an explicit mechanism for creating them, as our local bill does. Second, the state assesses the transfer fee on the seller whereas the Island act assesses the fee on the buyer. And third, the state act assesses transfer fees on the portion of sales “over $1,000,000 or the county median sales price, whichever is higher,” while the local legislation assesses fees on the portion of sales over $1,000,000 “or an amount determined by the [MV] Housing Bank Commission annually.”

The Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank will continue to seek to align the final bill that is ultimately passed by the legislature as closely as possible with the legislation our voters supported. We may not fully achieve our intentions, but in the coming months we will commit all the resources we can muster to this effort.

If state legislative approval is achieved, the bill must then return to the Island towns for adoption. There is still much to be done before this becomes a reality. The wheels of government turn slowly and the road to passage of the bill will be long and hard, likely continuing until next summer.

Meanwhile, at this moment, there are more large-scale Vineyard housing developments on the boards and in-process than ever before. This housing will serve those making under 140 per cent of area median income. This is a positive step because the more of this type of housing that gets built, the more the proposed Housing Bank will be able to devote funds to what is known as the “missing middle.” This is the portion of our workforce and families making more than 140 per cent of area median income who are not served by current housing programs but for whom the inflated Vineyard housing market is inaccessible.

These funds will be invaluable for in-fill housing, accessory dwelling units, down payment assistance, the purchase of year-round restrictions, and other creative ways to solve our housing crisis (our legislation calls for a minimum of 75 per cent to be used for previously developed properties)

The six towns, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, Island businesses, and for-profit and non-profit developers are all working together in admirable ways to provide housing solutions. The Housing Bank, with its significant long-term funding mechanism, if approved will become an essential piece of this complex puzzle to create a sustainable future for our children and our economy.

For more information and to learn about ways to get involved, visit the Coalition to Create the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank website at

Arielle Faria and Julie Fay are co-chairs of the Coalition to Create the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank.