Executive Director of the Island Housing Trust,
West Tisbury, Massachusetts
Briefly describe the situation in your area.
Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most expensive housing markets in the world, and like many communities across the country it's faced with instability, unaffordability, disempowerment, and displacement that directly impact its youngest and most vulnerable residents and its future economic health. Solving the Island’s housing crisis may be the single greatest opportunity to improve the health of our families and our community.
What are you working to protect?
My work has been to support a diverse and vital community on the island of Martha’s Vineyard by creating and sustaining permanently affordable housing solutions. To make it possible for people who are essential to our community’s well being – teachers, artists, shopkeepers, health care workers, construction workers, small business owners, municipal employees, among others – to afford to rent or own a home despite today’s high prices. Over the past decade, I’ve worked to provide hope and opportunity to hundreds of low and moderate income island families seeking a dignified solution to their housing needs.
What is the biggest obstacle you face?
Island families who spend more than half of their income on rent cannot afford the quality childcare, food, and activities that create health and opportunity for our children. The ‘Island shuffle’s’ constant displacement, that separates families from formal and informal systems of support within the Island community, adversely impacts the health outcome of our children.
Is there a leader of your group or is it led by committee?
The Island Housing Trust is the leading non-profit on Martha’s Vineyard who’s working in partnership with island towns, businesses, non-profits, and public and private funders to create new and innovative solutions that have become a national model for other high cost resort communities in difficult to develop areas.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned since you started working on this issue?
Land and housing are two of the most important cornerstones of any community—and a basic human need. The control of land and housing for the permanent benefit of the Island community has been my life’s work, as the founding director of the Island Housing Trust. I have seen how time and energy spent struggling with short-term or inadequate housing can be put to more productive use that benefits the entire community.