Habitat for Humanity, Martha's Vineyard

Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds recently helped a family of four secure permanent affordable housing on Martha’s Vineyard. Over $225,000 in West Tisbury CPA funds have gone toward the development of three house on Bailey Park Road in West Tisbury, jointly developed by the Island Housing Trust and Habitat for Humanity of Martha's Vineyard. According to Doug Ruskin, Co-President of the Martha's Vineyard Habitat for Humanity, significant funds have come from CPA in the development of Habitat’s last few houses on the Island: "CPA funds have been a major boon to affordable housing Island-wide in the last five or six years," he said.

Affordable and adequate housing is a major issue for permanent residents of Martha’s Vineyard where housing prices are extremely high and rental properties are often inadequate. The Thomas family had previously been living in a run-down older rental that had not been maintained by the owner. "Anything that needed to be done we had to pay for ourselves," he said. 

The Thomas family moved into their new home on Bailey Park Road in early February 2013. Mr. Thomas is a carpenter. Ms. Thomas cleans houses and has a new business photographing new babies. They are both Island-born and raised. J.R. went to the Oak Bluffs School and Ariel the West Tisbury School. They both graduated from the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.

The house, the second house of three Habitat has planned on the road off Great Plains Road, is a kit house, designed to be economical, energy efficient, and comfortable, according to Habitat Co-President, Greg Orcutt. The house was assembled by volunteers and the Thomas family.  As part of a community partnership, Habitat makes sure the costs fit the homeowners ability to pay. The owners usually buy the house with a 20-year no-interest mortgage that Habitat holds. The cost of the home is derived from a formula that ensures the cost of home ownership does not exceed 25 percent of the owners' gross income, according to Mr. Ruskin.

The land that the home sits on is owned by the Island Housing Trust and leased to the home owner for $50 per month for 99 years, ensuring that the house will always remain in the affordable housing pool. If the homeowners choose to sell in the future they will receive whatever equity has accrued and the next buyer must qualify as an affordable housing homeowner. 

Habitat plans to start another house project before the end of this year. It will be their 11th since Habitat MV began. "We are working to gear up our staffing and volunteer base and our donations to allow us to build faster and to build more houses," Mr. Ruskin said.

Photographs and content reprinted with permission of The Martha's Vineyard Times.