Annual town meetings are a great opportunity for each of us to influence housing decisions in our towns. Your voice makes a difference in what kind of housing gets built and how millions of dollars of public funds get spent. It’s easier than you think to get involved. If you want to help advocate for more affordable housing in your town, contact Scott Lajoie, Housing Assistance’s Government Affairs Director at email@example.com.
At the time of this writing, four towns had not yet held their town meetings. Even so, already this year we saw some great housing wins. There was a lot of support for modifying bylaws that would encourage the creation of more Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which are small apartments created within an existing property, such as in a basement, or over a garage. We also saw properties purchased and funds allocated to build more affordable housing. Here’s a summary of votes citizens made for housing during the earlier town meetings, and action taken in Barnstable, which has a town council rather than an annual town meeting form of government.
Barnstable’s Planning Board voted unanimously at their May 24 meeting to approve and pass on the ADU bylaw for a Town Council vote. This will be the first time that residents will be able to receive a permit by-right for an accessory dwelling unit, rather than having to go through a long and uncertain permit process.
Voted Yes on Article 8 (Community Preservation Act Community Housing Funding), which included funding for the following: Part-time Housing Coordinator position; Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center; Habitat for Humanity – Red Top Road Community Housing – two new homes; and Brewster Affordable Housing Trust Fund – Rental Assistance Program.
Voted Yes on Article 12, which appropriated funds to the 2022 Community Preservation Act fund, of which $179,004 will go to support community housing.
Voted Yes on Article 32 (Community Preservation Act Funding), which appropriated $50,000 to fund an affordable housing specialist for the Harwich Affordability Trust.
Voted Yes on Article 16 to fund the CPA Program Budget, including in it affordable housing; Article 17, which will create affordable housing units at the “Orleans Cape Cod Five” Property; Article 23 to acquire the Governor Prence property, the best use of which is affordable housing, according to a feasibility study; Article 34 to fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund; and Article 59, which strikes from the current Accessory Dwelling Unit bylaw the owner occupancy requirement. This allows for second homeowners to develop and rent out an ADU as long as it meets minimum lease term requirement.
Voted unanimously to pass its Select Board-supported Accessory Dwelling Unit bylaw, which means more units can be developed by right to bolster year-round housing stock in Sandwich.
Voted Yes on Article 15, which supported affordable housing projects under the Community Preservation Act Fund for community housing purposes, including homeownership and rental housing efforts, buy down of single-family homes to resell at affordable rates, assistance to Hands of Hope, and funding to the Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center (CIVOC).
Voted Yes on Article 9—Community Preservation Budget for FY 2022, including $100,000 for a Homeowners Assistance Program, $100,000 to be transferred to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and $20,000 for the creation of new rental units at the former Cape Cod Five site in Orleans.