Housing Specialist for
the Town of Nantucket
Briefly describe the situation in your area.
Nantucket is widely recognized as having a year-round housing crisis. Our recent Workforce Housing Needs Assessment documented that half of all year-round households are housing-cost burdened. Forty percent of our total housing stock is utilized year round. With an average home price over $2 million, an increasing year-round population, and the attraction of the AirBnB model to investors, it is no surprise that rents are among the highest in the nation, year-round housing supply is exceedingly scarce, and the "Nantucket Shuffle" is alive and well.
What are you working to protect?
That we address our lack of stable, affordable, year-round housing is equally important to how we address it. We have done a remarkable job protecting our open space on Nantucket, as well as our historic architecture. As a community we need to gather around solutions that value our people, our environment, and our history equally.
What is the biggest obstacle you face?
NIMBYism...and there has been a lack of political and community will for years/decades. As the editor of our local paper, the Inquirer and Mirror, recently noted, "Why should we care about creating affordable housing? Because it helps retain year-round islanders who are our workforce, that's why. We have been woefully shortsighted in ignoring this, and every month another Island family leaves Nantucket for the mainland because they can't find a place to live."
Is there a leader of your group or is it led by committee?
Efforts here are largely led by concerned citizens (year-round and seasonal) alongside a handful of housing organizations. I am an entrepreneur and MBA by background. I got involved a few years ago because I could see this is the number one issue confronting the Island. I see that my job is: to put myself out of a job and help solve the problem. In my prior life, I was a partner in a medium-sized ski and snowboard business, where the industry mantra was “go big or go home.” Nantucket is in a unique situation, in that it can solve this problem if it collectively wants to.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned since you started working on this issue?
Solving this issue takes involvement from virtually everyone—year-round and seasonal. It takes a community to advance solutions. And it takes unrelenting leadership from the top of government on down.