Over the past few years, I’ve seen a sea change in the way that people on Cape Cod are talking about our housing crisis, and taking action to address it. Across the region, even the stably housed now understand that our local communities will change for the worse if we do not create housing for the workers we need. We are at a pivotal moment, poised to make real impact on the housing crisis.
Six towns have passed a model Accessory Dwelling Unit bylaw that will make it easier for homeowners to add small apartments on their existing property. Towns are considering ways to direct new revenue from the short-term rental tax to long-term investments in housing and wastewater treatment that supports housing. Many towns have set up Affordable Housing Trusts to fund new development. The Governor has put forth a Housing Choice Bill that could accelerate appropriate housing development across the state.
It’s terrific momentum toward addressing our housing crisis, but we need all of you to keep up the good work! Housing is the foundation that makes our communities possible. Cape Cod and the Islands are special not just because of our beautiful coastal environment, but also because of our close knit and diverse communities. We don’t want to become exclusive, retirement or second-home communities that import expensive workers from off-Cape. Today, we are fortunate to still have terrifically resourceful teachers, nursing assistants, fireman, fishermen, artists and entrepreneurs, living alongside professionals, hospitality workers, and our valued seasonal residents and tourists. This diversity makes us special. We can’t afford to lose it!
It is Housing Assistance supporters like you who have made all this progress possible. You have donated to and shared our public outreach campaigns. You attended advocacy trainings and showed up to town meetings. You called your town and state representatives to make sure they support smart new housing initiatives.
Please don’t stop now! What’s your vision for our community in ten, twenty, or even fifty years? Together, we can build it. And housing is the foundation.
There are many ways for you to get involved. Check with your town to find out if there are boards you can join to help make smart housing decisions for your local community. Show up to town meeting. Speak up for adding critical housing inventory for our workforce. As a resident of Cape Cod who cares about our shared future, you are qualified to jump in and become part of the solution. Although most housing decisions are made at the local town level, we are not alone. There are many resources out there to help us. The Cape Cod Commission’s regional policy plan and other initiatives provide a wealth of data and support for implementing new housing initiatives. The state provides support through the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and other initiatives.
In addition, this is the third year that Housing Assistance will be presenting the Cape Housing Institute training for municipal officials. This year, we are offering a one-day summit that will gather local decision makers together so that we can learn from each other and from state leaders about how increasing our local housing inventory can help protect and preserve our communities. If you serve in a staff, volunteer or elected position with your town, we invite you to attend this training, connect with your peers, and strategize to make the most of the housing opportunities before us.
No one organization can solve our region’s housing crisis, but each one of us can make a difference, if we work in collaboration and keep this great momentum going! Let’s build the thriving year-round community we all want!
If you’re a municipal official, click this link to register for the 3rd Annual Cape Housing Institute. This free event will be held on Friday, November 15, 8:30 am to 6 pm, at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis.