The Housing Assistance advocacy team also is organizing on the local level, building on the energy from November’s Housing to Protect Cape Cod (HPCC) summit, which drew over 350 people.
Ann Schiffenhaus, director of community relations and advocacy, said the coalition is working with leaders and residents in towns across the Cape to both advance pro-housing initiatives and increase public awareness and engagement to support housing.
“We’re also looking at housing production plans or local comprehensive plans to see what’s already in place,” she said. “We’re not going to recreate the wheel, but if the wheel’s missing a spoke, that’s where we come in.”
Part of that work includes convening town huddles, which are strategic meetings of residents interested in changing their town’s housing policies. Each town huddle will focus on how the housing crisis is impacting their community. Participants will hear firsthand experiences from local employers, educators and community members in a panel discussion.
“We want to drill down to town levels and get people together to discuss what are the best ways to change zoning and get their town to spend more money on housing,” said Scott Lajoie, director of government affairs. “We’re asking the people who know each town’s dynamics to help determine the best strategies. That might be putting articles on the town meeting warrant, or it might be more long term with zoning changes and budget allocations.”
The first town huddles are convening in early February, with more to follow in the spring.
Housing Assistance and Leadership Cape Cod (LCC) have also joined forces to train advocates to speak up for affordable and accessible housing. The two organizations will provide a civic engagement educational series specifically geared toward housing advocates. The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding in January and will begin work soon to develop the curriculum.