Town Meeting's Housing Superheroes

Tucker Holland & Brian Sullivan •

To the editor: Someone once shared some wisdom which resonates: you haven’t really lived until you have done something for someone who can never pay you back.

At Town Meeting a couple weeks ago, this sentiment was on full display when four women showed up with no intention of speaking…yet in the discussion around Article 18 and a $6.5 million permanent override for year-round housing, they could not remain silent.

Esmeralda Martinez, Lorna Dollery, Kate Deras and Berta Scott, each got out of their comfort zone and spoke from the heart as to the importance of continuing to invest in housing for our year-round community.

Listening to Kate’s story of rising up through the ranks at Nantucket Cottage Hospital, one was struck by what an amazing illustration her life is of what is possible when one has stable housing.

Lorna’s rebuke of someone’s suggestion that all people have to do is work if they want housing here was another unforgettable moment: “Gee, I wish someone had told me that all I need to do to have housing here is get a job.” Lorna forwent income that Saturday to have her voice heard, pointing out that she was fortunate to be able to do that. There were many people not in the room for whom that wasn’t an option.

Esmeralda is a shining example of someone who works very hard, giving back to the community in so many ways. On Town Meeting floor that day she, too, was a voice for the often voiceless at ATM.

Berta Scott remembered those year-round members the community has lost to off-island destinations, and spoke to the importance of us all stemming that tide.

Through the Finance Committee annual article review and the ongoing work of the Affordable Housing Trust, details around the use of the $67M appropriated to date and planned uses for the $6.5M are shared regularly:

Funding Deployed ($37.4M)

  • 31 Fairgrounds Road (“Wiggles Way”) land acquisition and construction (22 units) -$13.9M *$5.4M in grants, $8.5M in loans
  • 135 / 137 / 141 Orange Street land acquisition (~28 units) -$3.9M
  • Vesper Lane land acquisition (~14 units) -$2.6M
  • 12+12R Bartlett Road land acquisition (~12 units) -$2.6M
  • Richmond Wildflower affordability buy down and construction acceleration (24 units) -$2.6M *$925K in buy-down grants, $1.675M in loans
  • Richmond Violet Place affordability buy down and construction acceleration (48 units) -$5.95M *$2.38M in buy-down grants, $3.57M in loans
  • White Street land acquisition (~6 units) -$1.2M
  • Habitat – Beach Grass Road land acquisition and construction (2 units) -$1.1M
  • Habitat – Benjamin Drive construction (3 units) -$975k
  • Somerset Road + Thirty Acres Lane acquisition (2 units) -$2.6M

Planned Uses for Balance of $67M ($29.6M)

  • 6 Fairgrounds Road / Ticcoma Green construction (64 units) - $7.5M *$6.5M in loans, $1M in grants
  • 135 / 137 Orange Street development (~28 units) - $6.5M
  • 12+12R Bartlett Road development (~12 units) - $2.8M
  • Vesper Lane development (~14 units) - $3.3M
  • Amelia Drive development (3 units) - $1M
  • Sparks Avenue affordability buy-down (8+ units) - $4M
  • White Street development (~6 units) - $3M
  • Contingency $1.5M

Planned uses of $6.5M override

  • Continue our successful Closing Cost Assistance Program
  • Ensure achievement of 10% state requirement & continuity of Safe Harbor
  • Provide homeownership opportunities through:
    • Buydown of planned new units
    • Down payment assistance / buy-down for repurposing of existing stock
    • Development of new stock through public / private partnerships

Support of the voters since 2019 has allowed steady progress. 36 year-round households are already under new roofs. These households include folks in the following professions: chef, teacher, hospital worker, hospitality, landscaping, house cleaning, air traffic control, construction, retail, painting, non-profit, and more.

Because of your support, 22 more year-round households will be under new roofs this fall at Wiggles Way. And another 100+ year-round families will be under more new roofs in the next 24-30 months. With your continued support, even more can be accomplished.

The numbers are important. Berta, Esmeralda, Kate, and Lorna reminded everyone at ATM that behind the numbers are real people.

When we were young, we used to read comic books. As a kid reading those, you sometimes dreamed of growing up and being surrounded by superheroes. Sitting in the NHS auditorium on May 6th listening to these women, it was clear to us: sometimes dreams do come true.

Tucker Holland
Nantucket Municipal Housing Director

Brian Sullivan
Nantucket Affordable Housing Trust Chair

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