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Urgent: Advocate for Nantucket’s Housing – Send This Letter Today!

Link to more information on nantucket-ma.gov

Please see the template below. You can copy and paste it, add your signature, and send it directly to Karen.Spilka@masenate.gov.


Honorable President Spilka and all Massachusetts Senators:

As you know, Nantucket is facing one of the nation’s worst housing crises, one that threatens our public safety, healthcare, commerce, and our cherished sense of community. In light of this, we are writing to ask urgently and directly for your support for the Affordable Homes Act, and specifically for including a local option Real Estate Transfer Fee as well as the Seasonal Communities provision proposed by Governor Healey. We appreciate the enormity of the responsibility you have in looking out for all 351 municipalities that make up the Commonwealth. We believe you understand that our vastly different and unique real estate market pits year-round residents against both wealthier seasonal home buyers as well as investors in short-term rentals. This lack of buying power for year-round residents cannot be overcome without significant financial resources and subsidy.

On top of this, our home is an island: We cannot depend on more affordable housing in neighboring communities to provide us with nurses, teachers and crucially, firefighters and police officers who cannot afford to live here. Our median home price on Nantucket currently exceeds $3.5 million. In this interest rate environment, one must be earning six times the area median income to afford the median home.

Our community is faced with losing our most valuable members. We have full-time firefighters who do not reside on Nantucket. We cannot keep good young police officers who want, like most of us, to raise a family in a home of their own. The Town Hall, our schools and our hospital have dozens of open year-round positions. Small businesses and nonprofits close early, or close completely, in the facing of staffing shortages.

Nantucket voters and taxpayers are doing their part. Here are a few examples how:
· We allow multifamily by right.
· We allow ADU’s by right.
· We have voted to support over $130 million in funding toward year-round housing over the past five years.
· We have twice bonded with our CPA funds — $5 million each time – as part of that funding.
· We have dedicated $6.5 million annually to the Housing budget, made possible by the expansion of the rooms occupancy tax to short term rentals.
· We have taken our Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) count from less than 2% to over 5% (we were at nearly 7% prior to the reset following the 2020 Census when our requirement went from 490 units to 618).

Since 2016, Nantucket residents, year-round and seasonal alike, have overwhelmingly supported a modest real estate transfer fee – 0.5% on amounts over $2 million – to benefit our housing efforts. Our Home Rule Petition has been supported unanimously on multiple occasions, including once again at Annual Town Meeting this spring.

If the modest fee had been in place the past three years, on average, Nantucket would have brought in $4.2 million a year. These funds could be further bonded and provide another $75-$100 million in the near term. We are poised to put these funds to work buying-down the affordability / attainability for year-rounders in private development projects as well as support the required local subsidy in Town-sponsored developments.

Some say a transfer fee would devalue real estate. All evidence to the contrary on Nantucket, where we have had a 2% real estate transfer fee for conservation and recreation purposes since 1984: median real estate values have increased 10x since its inception.

Allowing for a local option Real Estate Transfer Fee would provide an annual, self-sufficient funding mechanism, for those towns which opt to utilize it, to allow communities like ours to:

· take care of ourselves;
· greatly reduce if not eliminate the competition for state funding with other communities;
· greatly assist both non-profit and for-profit developers and municipalities in the creation of vital housing;
· repurpose existing inventory permanently into year-round housing stock; and,
· not dip into state coffers.

We would be most grateful for your support for this critical funding source for Nantucket and other similar communities who might opt to solve their housing challenge with this proven tool.

Most sincerely,
<YOUR NAME>
Nantucket, MA