To the Editor:
I would like to echo comments made by Ted Koffman in the guest column of the Dec. 1 Islander regarding the good work of The Island Housing Trust (IHT).
I have been involved with this organization for more than 10 years and have witnessed how their support is helping to place workers employed on the island into affordable family homes on Mount Desert Island. With home prices on MDI ever increasing, the average island working family just cannot afford to live here without the help of IHT.
Individuals are forced to commute from off the island, in some cases far off the island. As Ted said, it is a problem because, with more than 60 percent of the workforce not living here, we are in danger of our year-round communities changing to seasonal communities for the wealthy. That would be similar to places like Martha’s Vineyard, where vacation home prices continue to spiral ever upwards, taxes climb ever higher, schools student bodies continue to dwindle, and the costs of goods and services that we rely on here continue to soar.
As a loan officer for a local bank, I have seen this continue to happen for more than 20 years now. IHT helps bridge this gap between what the homes on MDI actually cost and what people can actually afford by providing significant grants to island workers in exchange for “affordability covenants” on these properties. These covenants forever limit the sales price on what they can be sold for in the future, thereby keeping future purchase prices more affordable for the next working island family.
IHT also works with the local island banks that provide special financing so that this can happen. Without the help of IHT, less than 40 percent of people are able to live here. Imagine what our community would look like if we were able to increase the number of year-round families. We must come together to help Island Housing Trust so that they can continue to help grow the community.
IHT relies solely on fundraising to help our work force with their programs, and funds are limited. In this season of giving, please consider a tax-deductible donation to the Island Housing Trust. Thank you and happy holidays!
Mortgage Loan Officer
Machias Savings Bank