Living year-round on Cape Cod is not a place for the faint of heart or those who want to go fast. It’s a place where deep connections and a sense of community are sustained. It’s a place where awe-inspiring beauty surrounds us even in the most mundane of activities like commuting to work; where our great schools and community resources weave an enviable region-wide network of services. It’s a place where our unique history, the family legacies of generational Cape Codders, and a welcome stream of new residents form the foundation from which we all grow and prosper.
Preserving the year-round aspects of the Cape we all know and love is a worthy and challenging undertaking. It will take all of us working together in new ways to achieve it.
I frequently hear from other residents their desire to keep the Cape the same. I appreciate the sentiment. I, too, remember fondly the Cape of 2001 when I first moved here. There are many aspects of the Cape’s seemingly slow-to-change cultures and communities that is reassuring.
However, the fact is that external forces in the marketplace are changing faster than any of us expected, and those forces will change our communities for the worse if we don’t take new action. The advent of online rental platforms like Airbnb, coupled with the Cape being known as a safe investment to off-Cape investors, has put increased pressure on the year-round housing market.
We have seen a decrease of year-round rentals and an increase in seasonal rentals. Our year-round workforce is having a harder and harder time finding housing. The sooner we as a community accept the trend, the better decisions we will make to influence the outcome.
Impacting Our Region
Even though most of us reading this likely have a permanent residence on the Cape or may own a second home here, the hidden costs of a limited supply of year-round rentals presents a significant challenge for our region.
Lack of housing for our year-round workforce will influence our local businesses’ ability to innovate and our relevance as a tourist destination. Those of us stably housed will be impacted with higher costs of goods and services and ultimately by living in a museum—our current year-round friends and neighbors will be replaced by visitors from off-Cape.
So while we prepare to embark on a new year, let’s be grateful that each of us is in a position to influence changes necessary to preserve the place we live and love.
We can advocate at the town level to increase housing available to year-round residents. For example, towns can allow Accessory Dwelling Units by right; update zoning to permit denser, walkable neighborhoods in appropriate locations; and link wastewater planning with housing needs.
In addition, we invite seasonal homeowners to consider renting their home year-round through our Rent 365 program. Learn more about the financial incentive and details of our Rent 365 program and download a copy of our recently published report on the impact of insufficient year-round housing at www.CapeHousing.org.
We have an opportunity to maintain the competitiveness of Cape Cod as a vacation destination, a retirement community, and a place for year-round families to thrive—but only if we have housing for our year-round workforce.
This effort will take community-wide involvement. Please contact us if you have ideas, questions, or comments. We’d love to hear from you!