While most families are enjoying summer break – a time we often think of freedom and fun for children – summer is no vacation for those experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness.

Each spring, dozens (if not hundreds) of families and individuals across Cape Cod do the summer shuffle. They lose their winter rentals and are forced to look for housing in a market that has a 1% vacancy rate. Many families are faced with desperate decisions. Some share cramped spaces with relatives or friends, others live in their cars. Some set up tents in the woods. Still others leave, giving up their lives here on Cape Cod in the hope of finding an affordable place to live.

Children bear the brunt of homelessness and housing insecurity. The children in these families not only face the uncertainty of lacking a place to call home, they also are at risk for a lifetime of health issues. According to the often-cited report, Facts on Homelessness and Children (2005), the negative impacts start early:

  • More than one-fifth of homeless preschoolers have emotional problems serious enough to require professional care, but less than one-third receive any treatment.
  • Homeless children are twice as likely to repeat a grade compared to non-homeless children.
  • Homeless children are sick at twice the rate of other children (ear infections, asthma, stomach problems).

The list goes on and on. The housing crisis is getting worse, but it doesn’t have to. We can SOLVE this problem; we have the tools and the knowledge. It takes concerned residents who care about their community to stand up and demand action.

If we don’t, we risk a generation of children who will grow up not knowing what it means to be part of something bigger than them, something that includes diverse people and experiences – a community – because they will not have had the chance to truly know what it means to be home.

That’s why it was such a huge honor for us to host Gov. Maura Healey and Ed Augustus, Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities, when they announced her administration’s five-year capital investment plan (see cover story).

It’s clear to me that Gov. Healey gets it. She knows that affordable housing projects are not possible without financial support from our towns and government partners. She knows that we have to do the hard work to change zoning and other policies to clear the path for housing, and she supports these efforts.

With a display of drawings by 100 Cape Cod children illustrating what home means to them as our backdrop, we were reminded of our common goal – the reason we advocate for housing –which is to ensure children have homes to grow from, parents have stable housing to go to work from and grandparents can age in place.

I stood with the Governor that day as she made a historic investment in addressing the housing crisis; I hope you will stand with us to help leverage that investment as we work to keep Cape Cod a thriving year-round community.