Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Linda L. Day


Low-income affordable housing remains an issue for the town on Martha's Vineyard where this study was conducted, in which an estimated 54% of low-/moderate-income households spend more than 50% of monthly income on housing. Using Schneider and Ingram's work regarding the social construction of target populations as the foundation, the purpose of this qualitative research was to assess how the perceived social standing and political power contributed to determining the benefits and burdens allocated to the town's low-income households. Data for this study consisted of 14 individual semistructured interviews with members of low-income households who were seeking or in affordable housing. The research concentrated on the obstacles and reactions the low-income households experienced in the quest for affordable housing. Data were coded and analyzed using a value coding procedure followed by thematic analysis. Three themes emerged from the research: a perception by the participants of not being valued in the community and a lack of attention by town leadership to their affordable housing struggles; a self-reliance to find affordable housing; and coping strategies by renting bedrooms with shared kitchen and living areas or resorting to a 9-month lease and being displaced during the summer tourist season. The research illuminated the low-income community's housing experiences and perceptions, thereby helping town leaders to form housing policy and make fiscal decisions. The implications for positive social change include recommendations to town leadership to examine incentivizing homeowners to offer affordable rentals, investigating congregate housing solutions, and developing multifamily affordable housing for the town's low-income households.