Owning a home on Nantucket is a wonderful opportunity for many reasons, with quality of life surely at the top of the list. Unfortunately, homeownership is an unattainable dream for many year-round residents due to constricted supply and incredibly high demand. Prices are often driven out of reach for so many, and it’s an issue that affects our entire island, as everyone from government and essential workers to those whose businesses make our island so very successful and special are impacted.
Since 2014, I have made sure to move beyond passively recognizing this as a problem. As the current Chair of Nantucket’s Affordable Housing Trust, I work tirelessly alongside other members of the board and our community to help create programs and opportunities to help ease the burdens of underhoused Nantucketers.
The Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ tool for understanding the census data of year-round homes and is used to calculate how many income-restricted units should exist in communities throughout the state. Of the 490 units required, Nantucket has 297, which makes the tasks of the Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT) and other local Housing advocates all the more critical. We are all working hard to create more rental units and homeownership opportunities for our community.
The Covenant Program
Nantucket created its own program for homeownership called the Affordable Housing Needs Covenant Program. It is facilitated through the non-profit organization Housing Nantucket. The Covenant Program applies to properties at 150% AMI (the area median income is $183,750 for a family of 4). There are currently 103 Covenant homes. You can subdivide almost any property on Nantucket to create a Covenant home or property. The maximum price for a Covenant home in 2022 is $963,867.
History of the Affordable Housing Trust
The Affordable Housing Trust on Nantucket is a board appointed by the Select Board. Along with staff, NAHT have been working to acquire properties to be used for the development of SHI qualified housing and affordable ownership opportunities for year-round residents. Since 2019, the community has acquired 135 and 137 Orange Street (potential for ~24 of Units), Vesper Lane (potential ~12 of Units), a 2.8-acre land parcel located at 8 White Street, and partnered with other housing advocates on 31 Fairgrounds Road (22 of Units), and Richmond Development in an effort to create 46 more units which will come on-line this year. For a total planned 100+ units. The next phase of development and funding for these projects is a focus of the NAHT.
How can you help?
The NAHT meets regularly on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at noon. Here is a link to the schedule of Zoom meetings: https://www.nantucket-ma.gov/184/Affordable-Housing-Trust. Also, the NAHT can accept donations, both real property and financial. Finally, you can advocate with your votes at elections to support affordable housing incentives on Island, at the annual Town meeting, as well as at the state level supporting Nantucket’s Home Rule Petition known as the Nantucket Housing Bank Bill.