Affordable Housing Initiatives to Go Before Orleans Town Meeting Voters

ORLEANS – Town meeting voters in Orleans will soon be asked to back affordable housing initiatives after the findings of a report were presented to Selectmen last month.

Trends that are expected to continue are fewer children and young families and more seniors.

The 140-page report, which was funded by the Community Preservation Committee and town meeting voters, showed there are just under 6,000 year-round residents in town with almost 11,000 residents added during the summer.

Children under 18 make up only 10 percent of the population and the over-65 population is up to 40 percent.

“One out of five senior residents in Orleans lives alone in a household of one person,” said George Meservey, the town’s director of planning and community development.

Meservey says there are fewer middle-income homes in the town compared to other Cape communities and that the town has more than 300 people living below the poverty line.

The report also indicates that 14 percent of all individuals in town have a disability and that percentage increases to 22 percent for seniors.

“We do have a high level of special needs in the town and that will go to housing needs as well,” Meservey said.

The town’s population has increased by 11 percent over the last 30 years, but the number of homes have increased by 80 percent.

“Seasonality is increasing and household size is going down,” Meservey said.

New homes built in 2016 had an average building permit value of $610,000 and the overall average of the value of single-family homes was just under $600,000. There are more than 700 condominiums but yearly rentals are decreasing causing a low rental vacancy rate of just 3 percent.

The town’s Affordable Housing Committee recommends hiring a housing development specialist, continuing housing needs public education programs and expanding the powers of the town’s affordable housing trust.

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