Final Guidelines







July 6, 2005


The goal of the Affordable Home Ownership Program (the “Program”) is to provide housing at a less than market price for people who live in Tisbury.

The Program is intended to serve a clear need, to lessen situations of hardship, and to retain a stable and diversified year-round community in Tisbury.

The Program is also structured so as to maintain affordable housing as permanently affordable.

The program is intended to supplement those opportunities that may arise from other affordable housing proposals, including proposals presented under G.L. c. 40B, paragraphs 20-23.


For the purposes of this Program, the following definitions are used:

“Eligible Applicants” - Applicants who have completed and submitted a Tisbury affordable housing (TAH) application and who, upon cursory review by the Tisbury Housing Committee (THC) or their designee, meet all the AH criteria. Those names will be kept on a Tisbury AH "Waiting List". They will be advised of any and all lotteries for available units in Tisbury.

“Qualified Applicants” - Applicants from the Eligible Applicants list and any others  who apply at the time of a specific project whose application and documentation has been verified within 3-6 months of a lottery and whose name will be submitted in that particular lottery.

The THC shall process all applications for affordable lots or houses (collectively “Affordable Housing Units”) that may become available from time to time under the auspices of this program, pursuant to these Implementation Guidelines as they may be amended from time to time (the “Guidelines”). It is intended that the Guidelines serve as the standards by which the THC works with applicants for Affordable Housing Units.

It is the intent of the Program that Affordable Housing Units be made available to individuals who have lived in Tisbury and who intend to live year-round in the town, within the limitations of law or regulation.  Only “Eligible Applicants” (as defined above), approved by the THC in compliance with the criteria contained herein, shall qualify for this Program. Program requirements and restrictions prohibit property associated with the Program from being used for speculative purposes.

The THC shall restrict the sale of Affordable Housing Units to insure their future affordability by establishing a formula for calculating future sales prices, as evidenced by a recorded restriction approved at or prior to the issuance of an occupancy permit. The restriction shall establish a Maximum Resale Value indexed against the Area Median Income as may be determined by reference to statistics kept by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.  Wherever possible, the Town of Tisbury shall utilize the services of the Island Housing Trust (the “IHT”) or another qualified entity to monitor the Affordable Housing Units to insure affordability in perpetuity.  In situations where the ultimate owner of the land is to be the IHT, the requirements of the IHT shall be used in setting specific project conditions since perpetual affordability is a key to the success of this Program.

The THC shall review and retain with confidentiality, to the extent permitted by law:

  • all completed applications to the Program. Applications may be made at any time, and will be retained, although deadlines for specific projects will be set and advertised. Applicants will designated “Eligible Applicants” at the time of application by the THC or by the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority (“DCRHA”) under agreement with the THC. The names of all applicants meeting the requirements of a specific project (“Qualified Applicants” as defined above) for which a lottery is to be held shall be given to the Board of Selectmen, which shall serve as the lottery agent hereunder.
  • In the event that an applicant is deemed “not eligible”, he/she will have ten days from the receipt of written notification of such status to appeal this decision to the THC, stating why he/she disagrees with the decision. The THC will reconsider any appeals, and will issue a final written decision with respect thereto. A finding of ineligibility shall not preclude a subsequent reapplication.
  • The THC may from time to time revise any or all of the provisions contained herein after holding a public meeting and receiving approval from the Board of Selectmen. In the event that the criteria for Eligible Applicants are substantively modified, all applicants (including those already qualified as Eligible Applicants) must be requalified under the new Program conditions prior to any future lottery or other use of the list of Eligible Applicants.


Applicants must supply verification documents for each of the following.

  1. Applicant(s) must have a valid form of identification proving U.S. citizenship or permanent legal resident status. 
  2. Valid U.S. Social Security numbers are required for all applicants and all adult members of the applicant household.
  3. Applicant(s) must be eighteen years of age or older.
  4. Applicant (at least one per household) must be gainfully employed or show proof of sustaining government subsidy.
  5. Applicant must have a total household adjusted gross income of not more than 150% of the median income established by HUD for Dukes County, as certified by the DCRHA, and must demonstrate this on the Federal Income Tax return filed for the year previous to the year in which the lottery is held. Lotteries held before April 15th of any given year will utilize copies of the W-2 forms furnished by the Applicants’ employer(s).
  6. Applicant must show evidence of acceptable financing, including prequalification, for a mortgage from a duly established lending institution, and may include third party sources and gifts in the total purchase price. Said financing must be sufficient to purchase the lot and build a primary dwelling thereon or purchase the constructed home, as applicable. Applicant must obtain a mortgage commitment within 90 days after being awarded an Affordable Housing Unit. Failure to do this will cause revocation of the award and the property will be awarded to an alternate chosen at the time of the lottery. Any financing beyond the first mortgage must be reviewed and approved by the THC.
  7. Applicant must report all assets and debts. Assets in excess of $50,000 over the amount needed for the down payment and/or to make up the necessary mortgage amount on the home will render an applicant ineligible unless the applicant applies for and receives a special exemption from the THC. Such special exemption must be obtained before submitting a completed application for a lottery. In the case of applicants who are fifty-five years old or greater, this maximum asset amount shall be increased to $150,000.
  8. Preference will be given where possible to residents of Martha’s Vineyard and the Town of Tisbury in a way that is not in contravention with any laws, regulations or court decisions. In the event that there are units in the lottery which are to be sold to applicants who earn 80% or less than the Median Income for Duke County, the criteria below dealing with the length of residence in Tisbury shall not be utilized, since this is in contravention with recent court rulings regarding residency. For units being sold to people who earn greater than 80%, the following criteria may be utilized to give preference to individuals who have lived for longer periods of time in Tisbury:
  • Applicants with 1-5 years of residency in Tisbury – one chance in any given lottery
  • Applicants with 6-10 years of residency in Tisbury – two chances in any given lottery
  • Applicants with 11-15 years of residency in Tisbury – three chances in any given lottery
  • Applicants with over 15 years of residency in Tisbury – four chances in any given lottery     
  • (Time spent at college while a legal resident of Tisbury counts towards residency for this purpose.)
  • Employment by the Town of Tisbury for two years (including the School, and including part time emergency service workers), (or a signed contract as a town or school employee of at least two years duration) – one chance in any given lottery

Additional preference may be given on specific projects on a case-by-case basis for other situations, as follows (e.g.):

  • Qualified applicants who are graduates of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School or the Charter School– one extra chance in any given lottery
  • At least three years of volunteer work on an established Town board – one extra chance in any given lottery


All deed restrictions shall be in a form that is sufficient to satisfy the provisions hereof and shall be subject to the prior approval of Town Counsel.


The THC will make application packages available through the Selectmen’s Office at the Town Hall.  These packages will contain the following information:

  1. Information sheet for each Affordable Housing Unit or Units
  2. Check list for applicants
  3. Application for Affordable Housing Program
  4. Affordable Housing Guidelines
  5. IHT deed restrictions