DONOR SPOTLIGHT: Shepley Wood Products

Shepley Wood Products has supported Housing Assistance “probably longer than any of us can remember,” according to Tony Shepley, president of the company.

“I view ‘civic rent’ as a social obligation that we should pay back to our community both personally and professionally,” he said.

“The center of every family is the home. Without safe, stable, and affordable housing, any family is at risk. There’s an overwhelming need for affordable housing on Cape Cod.

“I like the fact that Housing Assistance is approaching it from a couple of different directions. They’re in the business of producing affordable housing, but there’s also the awareness angle. How do we make the public aware that this is not a problem that fixes itself or just goes away?

“Affordable housing doesn’t generate itself. It has to be encouraged. If we deprive ourselves of the ability to house our workers, where does that leave us? How do our kids afford to stay here?”

Shepley and a partner founded Shepley Wood Products in 1978 with $4,000 and a used lumber truck. As the company grew, it continued to innovate by adding an architectural finish hardware department, a service department and the state-of-the-art Shepley Showcase.

But even as the company helped professional builders succeed, its own employees sometime struggled to find affordable housing. Most of his employees on Nantucket live in company housing. “Talk about a big commitment and an expensive one, but that’s how it works,” he said.

“The first step is admitting that there’s a problem. Housing Assistance is really trying to get people woken up to that. Housing Assistance also is active in telling our legislators, you’ve been treating this as somebody else’s problem, but it’s a problem that affects all of us.”

Getting people to participate in the housing solution in some ways is like unloading a lumber truck.

“If a small group of people are stuck doing it, it can feel impossible, but when everybody works together, it’s not that big a lift.”