Select Board Grants $4 Million To Habitat For Humanity For New Affordable Housing Project

Jason Graziadei •

Waitt drive
A sketch plan of the proposed Habitat For Humanity development on Waitt Drive.

The Nantucket chapter of Habitat For Humanity has already constructed 16 affordable homes across the island, providing housing for individuals and families who would otherwise been unable to purchase them amid Nantucket's escalating housing crisis.

Now the non-profit organization is about to take on its biggest project yet thanks to a $4 million grant from the Select Board. The grant - the largest ever received by Habitat for Humanity's Nantucket chapter - will go toward the construction of six affordable homes at 5, 7, and 9 Waitt Drive. The new road was recently constructed behind the Fairgrounds Road public safety facility and runs parallel to Amelia Drive. The three 5,000-square-foot lots were given to Habitat for Humanity by the town for $1.

The Select Board's unanimous vote to award the $4 million grant followed a similarly unanimous endorsement by the town's Affordable Housing Trust late last month. The funding, according to municipal housing director Kristie Ferrantella, comes from previous Town Meeting spending authorizations for affordable housing initiatives in 2019 (articles 28 and 32) and 2023 (article 10). 

The six homes will be restricted to individuals and families making 80 percent or less of Nantucket's area median income, and all will be eligible for inclusion in the town's subsidized housing inventory. Habitat for Humanity will also be seeking a "special municipal local preference" for two of the units, allowing them to be dedicated for town employees.

While previous Habitat for Humanity projects have utilized modular homes transported to the island, the six new homes on Waitt Drive will be stick-built.

"We will go back to stick building the six homes since we have gotten very competitive bids from Miller Starbuck, who built our three homes in Sachem's Path and one home on Waitt Drive before we moved to modular for our last 5 homes," wrote Gerry Keneally, president of Habitat for Humanity Nantucket, in a letter to the Affordable Housing Trust. "We found that even though modular was quicker, the quality and durability were much lower than that of stick building."

The designs for the homes were approved by the Historic District Commission in December. Habitat for Humanity contractors started clearing the lots this week, and a construction timeline shows an estimated completion date of summer 2025 for four of the six units.

A lottery for those qualified based on area median income will determine who the units are sold to. Ferrantella described the process this way: "The developer can apply for a 'local preference' which would allow for 75 percent of the units to be held for a lottery for applicants who 1. live on Nantucket, or 2. work in Nantucket, or 3. have children in the school system, before opening it up to the general public. The request for municipal employee preference would set two units to have a lottery for municipal employees (who qualify) prior to opening it to the local preference group. and then to the general public."

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