Frequently Asked Questions
“How does this new Tax work?”
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“My town can’t afford to lose any money to its general fund - we need all the money we can get. We need money to pay for ____ ”
There are few problems more critical than housing the people who make our community work. But each town’s bucket of local excise tax money will also be significantly larger now because of the thousands of short-term rental properties that previously were not contributing to local taxes. Therefore, even when your town contributes 50% of its expanded room occupancy tax revenues to the Housing Bank, according to several different analyses, its general fund will generate more money than before. Currently, Oak Bluffs and Tisbury collect 6% local excise tax, while Edgartown, Chilmark, and Aquinnah collect 4%. West Tisbury has a warrant article proposing the town start collecting 6% this year.
“How much money are we talking about?”
Current estimates predict over $4 million in revenue could be available annually for year-round housing island-wide – if each town contributes 50% of its town revenues from the expanded local excise rooms occupancy tax (“short-term rental tax”). These are conservative estimates - no one yet knows exactly how many short-term rental units exist on MV.
“Why can’t we just let each town decide what’s best for its town?”
That’s the current model, and it’s clearly not producing enough year-round housing. The Housing Bank will be modeled like the Land Bank, which continues to dependably and effectively preserve land throughout the island. We need to do the same thing for housing. The Housing Bank will provide a dependable source of funding for housing year in and year out, rather than having to go to Town meeting each year and request funds. It’s important to remember that these funds will not come from residents’ taxes.
“will the housing bank only create newly built ownership homes?”
No! It supports year-round housing, which could include buying a home on the open market and converting it into 1-bedroom rental units; or developing senior and empty-nester housing; or creating affordable rental properties that address different levels of income. If all six towns contribute 50% of their town’s revenues from the expanded local rooms tax, it is estimated that the Housing Bank would earn millions of dollars each year, allowing it to fund impactful, innovative, and diverse forms of year-round housing.
“I don’t want a regional entity making unilateral decisions about projects in my town.”
It will not. Each Town’s Municipal Affordable Housing Trustees will assist the Housing Bank Commissioners in planning projects in their respective towns, and must approve any project to move forward.
“How will the Housing Bank be run?”
It will be structured much like the Land Bank - “regional focus, local control.” The distribution of island-wide funds would be managed by Housing Bank Commissioners, and allocations will be made in collaboration with the Trustees of the Municipal Housing Trust of the town in which projects are planned.
“What do you mean when you say it will be modeled after the Land Bank?”
The Housing Bank Commissioners will consist of seven members, one member elected by each island town, plus one appointed by the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority to ensure affordable housing and financing expertise. All terms would be three years, staggered.
“Who will pay for the staff needed to manage the Housing Bank?”
Administrative costs of the Housing Bank would be paid from its revenues.
“Will the revenue from the expanded excise tax be the only source of revenue for the Housing Bank?”
No, the Housing Bank may also receive revenue from philanthropic donations, town funds, and Martha’s Vineyard Commission exactions as well as having bonding or borrowing capability.
“Will the Housing Bank earn enough money to fund large-scale projects?”
That is the expectation. The warrant article includes language that will allow the Housing Bank to leverage its funds with bonding, grants and other sources, paving the way for larger and/or more impactful projects.
“Will the Housing Bank be anything like the Municipal Housing Trust?”
The Housing Bank’s governance and decision making would be modeled on the Land Bank, with its powers and responsibilities modeled on Municipal Housing Trusts (MGL Chapter 44, Section 55C)
“Why aren’t these articles being presented by the Selectmen?”
Strong island-wide support by voters indicated we should ask directly: Voters, property owners, renters and workers must speak out.
No Time: the legislation was moving quickly and we did not have time for multiple Board of Selecting meetings prior to early warrant article deadlines
Consistency Needed: Identical language across all 6 towns
“How did all of this come about?”
In 2017, over 70% of those who voted on the Housing Bank referendum were in favor of it. It asked if voters would support “… an island-wide entity with a dependable source of funding for housing”. Also, in 2005 all 6 towns voted in favor of an island-wide Housing Bank that would have been funded by a 1% transfer fee on all real estate transactions over $750,000. However the State Legislature did not approve. Now, the same Legislature has passed this new funding source for all cities and towns, paving the way for our much needed Housing Bank.
“Why do we need more housing?”
According to the recently published Housing Production Plan only 38% of our entire housing stock is available for year-round housing. The remaining 62% of our housing is used for seasonal and recreational use. Clearly, the Vineyard desperately needs to significantly increase our year-round housing inventory:
Empty Nester Housing
And so much more
The cost of doing nothing is real and already tangible:
Fewer consumer choices
Reduced access to essential services including public safety (fire, police, EMS) and social support programs
Competitiveness decreases due to staffing shortages and challenges
The entire community’s economy suffers
Our quality of life relies on the arrival of workers by boat every day.
Worker attraction and retention is down
Critical workers depart
Replacement workers can’t move here
Employers have to pay more to attract workers or reduce hours
Consumers pay higher prices for goods and services
“Will implementing this add to our taxes?”
No - the Housing Bank would be funded by receiving a portion of the new revenue the towns will receive because tourists now must pay taxes (they never had to pay before) on short-term rentals.
“Will the Housing Bank be a developer too?”
That is not the intent, and it would be counterproductive. As a government entity, it would cost more to develop housing on its own than to issue Requests for Proposal to private (for-profit and non-profit) entities for them to develop.
“What if only three towns vote for it?”
This is an island-wide problem, and we need an island-wide solution. We are counting on each town to vote for it because each town is affected by the housing crisis. But if only three towns vote for it, then only those towns will benefit.
What is the exact wording of the warrant article that will fund the housing bank?
Article ____ Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank
To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to petition the General Court for a Special Act substantially in the form set forth below, provided that the General Court may make clerical or editorial amendments to the form of said proposed Special Act, and provided further that the Selectmen shall have the authority to approve and accept any such amendments that shall be within the scope of the objectives of this petition.
An Act providing funding for the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank
Chapter __ of the Acts of ___
The Town of _________ has elected to impose a local excise tax upon the transfer of occupancy of a room in a short-term rental, as authorized by Section 3A of Chapter 64G of the General Laws and as further set forth in Section 6 of Chapter 337 of the 2018 Acts of Massachusetts. The Town has elected to impose said tax at the rate of __ (__%) percent of the total amount of rent for each such occupancy.
The Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank is a body politic and corporate, established under Chapter ___ of the Acts of 20__. Said Housing Bank is established under said Act for the sole purpose of the preservation and creation of year-round housing on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, in the County of Dukes, as may be further defined in such Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder. Under Section 4B of said Act, the Town is empowered to appropriate funds for the benefit of said Housing Bank.
Fifty (50%) percent of the total amount of tax collected by the Town of _________ under G.L. c. 64, as aforesaid, shall be appropriated and transferred to the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank, such funds to be restricted for use by the Housing Bank for the preservation and creation of year-round housing on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.
This Act shall take effect upon both the effectiveness of the Town’s election under G.L. c. 64G as aforesaid and the passage of the aforementioned Act creating the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank.
What is the exact wording of the warrant article that will create the Housing Bank?
Article ___ Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank
To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to petition the General Court, in compliance with Clause (1), Section 8 of Article LXXXXIX of the Amendments of the Constitution, to the end that legislation be adopted precisely as follows. The General Court may make clerical or editorial changes of form only to the bill, unless the Board of Selectmen approves amendments to the bill before enactment by the General Court. The Board of Selectmen is hereby authorized to approve amendments that shall be within the scope of the general public objectives of this petition.
AN ACT CREATING THE MARTHA’S VINEYARD HOUSING BANK
Chapter ___ of the Acts of ____
There is hereby established a Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank (the “Housing Bank”), the purpose of which shall be to provide for the preservation and creation of year-round housing on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard. The Housing Bank is hereby constituted a body politic and corporate and a public instrumentality and the exercise of the powers herein conferred upon the Housing Bank shall be deemed to be the performance of an essential governmental function.
The Housing Bank shall be administered by a Housing Bank Commission consisting of seven (7) persons.
2.1 Membership: There shall be one (1) person who is a legal resident of each of the towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and West Tisbury, each person to be elected to a 3-year term, in the same manner as other elected town officials. The initial terms, drawn by lot by the initial six (6) appointed members, shall be staggered so that two (2) members are elected each year, following the initial election of members, and each of the six (6) town boards of selectmen shall, respectively, appoint the initial six (6) members to serve from the effective date of this act until the first elections of the regular members at each town’s regular or special town election after the effective date of this act. One (1) member shall be appointed to a 3-year term by the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority.
2.2 Vacancies: Should a vacancy occur during the term of the elected town commissioner, the town’s Municipal Housing Trust (“MHT”) and the board of selectmen shall jointly appoint an interim member to serve until the next scheduled town election.
2.3 Administration: Members shall serve without compensation. The initial appointed members shall adopt temporary rules and regulations to the extent necessary to conduct business until the regular members are elected. The Housing Bank Commission shall elect from among its regular members a chairman and a vice chairman and a secretary and a treasurer who may be the same person. The members of the Housing Bank Commission shall adopt, after holding a public hearing and after requesting recommendations from the Board of Selectmen of the six member towns that comprise the commission, rules and regulations for conducting its internal affairs and procedural guidelines for carrying out its responsibilities under this act.
2.4 Quorum: A quorum shall be four (4) or more members. Decisions of the Housing Bank Commission shall be by majority vote at a meeting where a quorum is present. The Housing Bank Commission shall make rules regarding attendance. The Housing Bank Commission shall keep accurate records of its meetings and actions and shall file an annual report that shall be distributed with the annual report of each member town.
2.5 Conflict of interest: When members of the Housing Bank Commission hold other public offices and have to act in dual public positions, no conflict of interest shall be assumed in as much as both positions are serving the public interest and no compensation is received. However, if a Housing Bank Commission member or an MHT member also represents an organization that may benefit from a project being considered for a grant from the Housing Bank Commission, the member must declare a possible conflict of interest and shall not participate in the consideration and action on that grant application.
Each Town’s MHT shall assist the Housing Bank Commission in reviewing projects in their respective towns.
The Housing Bank Commission shall, subject to this act, have the power and authority to:
a) accept and receive real property, personal property or money, by gift, grant, contribution, devise or transfer from any person, firm, corporation or other public or private entity, including but not limited to money, grants of funds or other property tendered to the Housing Bank in connection with any ordinance or bylaw or any general or special law or any other source, including money from Chapter 44B, provided, however that any such money received pursuant to Chapter 44B shall be used exclusively for community housing and shall remain subject to all rules, regulations and limitations of that chapter;
b) purchase and retain real or personal property, including without restriction investments that yield a high rate of income or no income;
c) sell, lease, exchange, transfer or convey any personal, mixed, or real property at public auction or by private contract for such consideration and on such terms as to credit or otherwise, and to make such contracts and enter into such undertaking relative to Housing Bank property as the Housing Bank Commission deems advisable notwithstanding the length of any such lease or contract;
d) execute, acknowledge and deliver deeds, assignments, transfers, pledges, leases, covenants, contracts, promissory notes, releases and other instruments sealed or unsealed, necessary, proper or incident to any transaction in which the Housing Bank Commission engages for the accomplishment of the purposes of the Housing Bank;
e) employ regular staff, advisors and agents, such as accountants, appraisers and lawyers, as the Housing Commission deems necessary;
f) purchase and retain and/or lease real property for the Housing Bank’s internal administrative purposes and to dispose of same as and when the Housing Commission deems advisable.
g) pay reasonable compensation and expenses to all employees, advisors and agents and to apportion such compensation between income and principal as the Housing Commission deems advisable;
h) apportion receipts and charges between income and principal as the Housing Commission deems advisable, to amortize premiums and establish sinking funds for such purpose, and to create reserves for depreciation, depletion or otherwise;
i) participate in any reorganization, recapitalization, merger or similar transactions; and to give proxies or powers of attorney with or without power of substitution to vote any securities or certificates of interest; and to consent to any contract, lease, mortgage, purchase or sale of property, by or between any corporation and any other corporation or person;
j) deposit any security with any protective reorganization committee, and to delegate to such committee such powers and authority with relation thereto as the Housing Commission may deem proper and to pay, out of Housing Bank property, such portion of expenses and compensation of such committee as the Housing Commission may deem necessary and appropriate;
k) carry property for accounting purposes other than acquisition date values;
l) borrow money on such terms and conditions and from such sources as the Housing Commission deems advisable, to mortgage and pledge Housing Bank assets as collateral;
m) make distributions or divisions of principal in kind;
n) comprise, attribute, defend, enforce, release, settle or otherwise adjust claims in favor or against the Housing Bank, including claims for taxes, and to accept any property, either in total or partial satisfaction of any indebtedness or other obligation, and subject to the provisions of this act, to continue to hold the same for such period of time as the Housing Commission may deem appropriate;
o) hold all or part of the Housing Bank property uninvested for such purposes and for such time as the Housing Commission may deem appropriate;
p) extend the time for payment of any obligation to the Housing Bank; and
q) adopt such regulations and procedures as it deems necessary or appropriate to provide funding for the implementation of any and all programs cited in section 4A of this act.
The Housing Bank may provide funding as described in this Act. Upon applications from non-profit and for-profit corporations and organizations and public entities in a competitive process which will include public notice of funding availability, and in a form prescribed by the Housing Bank, funding in the form of grants, loans, loan guarantees, lines of credit, interest subsidies, rental assistance or any other means determined to further the goals of the Housing Bank for eligible housing activities might be provided. Eligible activities shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
• Purchase and rehabilitation of existing structures for rental or home ownership;
• Construction of rental or home ownership housing and necessary infrastructure;
• Purchase of land, and any and all improvements including infrastructure and easements to be used for qualified housing;
• Down payment assistance, grants and soft second loans;
• Rental assistance programs;
• Modernization and capital improvements of existing rental and ownership housing;
• Housing counseling, predevelopment costs and technical assistance associated with creating housing projects and programs.
Each member town is hereby authorized to appropriate money to be deposited in the Fund as provided in section 6.
The Housing Bank is authorized to issue bonds and notes to further the purposes of the Housing Bank but only if the issuance of these bonds or notes has been approved by a majority of the Trustees of all member towns’ MHTs.
The Housing Bank and all its revenues and income used solely by the Housing Bank in furtherance of its public purposes shall be exempt from taxation and from betterments and special assessments, and the Housing Bank shall not be required to pay any tax, excise or assessment to or for the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions.
All housing units created through funding by the Housing Bank under this act shall be deed restricted in perpetuity for the use approved for funding by the Housing Bank Commission.
The Housing Bank Commission shall meet its financial obligations by drawing upon a fund to be set up as a revolving or sinking account of the Housing Bank Commission (the “Fund”). Deposits into the Fund shall include (a) funds appropriated, borrowed or transferred to be deposited into the Fund by vote of the county commissioners of the county of Dukes County or of town meetings of the towns represented in the Housing Bank Commission; (b) voluntary contributions of money and other liquid assets to the Fund; (c) grants of funds tendered to the Housing Bank by each member town in connection with any ordinance or bylaw or any general or special law or any other source, including without limitation state and/or federal grants.
All expenses lawfully incurred by the Housing Bank Commission in carrying out this act shall be evidenced by proper vouchers and shall be paid by the treasurer of the Housing Bank Commission only upon submission of warrants duly approved by the Housing Bank Commission. The Housing Bank Commission treasurer shall prudently invest available assets of the Fund in accordance with the regulations and procedures adopted by the Housing Bank Commission under sections 2.3 and 4(q), and all income from its investments shall accrue to the Fund.
Money from the Fund may be expended by the Housing Bank Commission, subject to approval of a majority of the Trustees of the MHT of the town in which a project is located. In cases of regional housing projects, money from the Fund may be expended subject the permission of a majority of the Trustees of the MHTs of each town in which the project is located.
The Housing Bank Commission shall keep a full and accurate account of its actions including a record as to when, from or to whom, and on what account money has been paid or received under this act. These records or accounts shall be subject to examination by the director of accounts or the director’s agent pursuant to section 45 of chapter 35 of the General Laws.
This act, being necessary for the welfare of the member towns and the island of Martha’s Vineyard and their inhabitants, shall be liberally construed to effect its purposes.
Acceptance of this act, by each of the towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and West Tisbury shall be by the affirmative vote of a majority of the voters at any regular or special town election at which the question of acceptance has been placed on the ballot.
This act shall become effective on the date on which acceptance by no fewer than three (3) towns has been effected. Additional towns may elect to participate in the Housing Bank after the effective date of this act by affirmative vote of a majority of the voters at any regular or special town election at which the question of acceptance has been placed on the ballot.
Any time after five (5) years from the date on which a town votes to accept this act in accordance with Section 9, any town that is a member of the Housing Bank may withdraw from it by the affirmative vote of a majority of the voters at any regular or special town election. A town that has withdrawn remains liable for any obligations prior to withdrawal. A town that has withdrawn may renew its membership by the affirmative vote of a majority of the voters at any regular or special town election at which the question of acceptance has been placed on the ballot.
If the Housing Bank is reduced to fewer than three (3) member towns, the Housing Bank shall be dissolved. Upon dissolution of the Housing Bank, title to all funds and other properties held by the Housing Bank shall vest in the towns of the Island of Martha’s Vineyard as herein provided after provision is made for payment of all bonds, notes and other obligations of the Housing Bank.