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State needs to give islands the mechanism to keep residents housed

Fishing shacks and boats line a waterway in Menemsha Basin in Chilmark.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

In his political stunt exploiting migrant families, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida inadvertently helped the year-round residents of Martha’s Vineyard show the world their compassion and generosity, the diversity of their community, and, once again, their desperate need for more housing (“On the Vineyard, change and challenge belie the postcard image,” Page A1, Sept. 25).

As Brian MacQuarrie’s story makes clear, Martha’s Vineyard is far more than a seasonal playground for the wealthy; it is a thriving community of working- and middle-class families who are in a daily struggle to find places to live on an island where the average home costs $1.3 million. For its neighbor Nantucket, the average home price is nearly three times that. The islands cannot thrive or survive without a way to preserve and create affordable places to live for the workers, families, and seniors who are the very heartbeat of these communities.


There is an answer: Allow the islands the right to levy a small transfer fee on property sales that is then used to build and preserve housing for its public safety, health care, small-business, and restaurant workforce. The people of the Vineyard stood up to DeSantis. But they need help to keep the island a home for all. Let’s hope the next governor and the leaders of the Legislature are listening.

Dan O’Connell

Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank

West Tisbury

Tucker Holland

Municipal housing director