Effort Underway to Create More Cape Cod Housing Options

HYANNIS – As towns across the Cape grapple with housing shortages, a local group is seeking to allow area homeowners to more easily create apartments within their single-family homes.

Several towns already have such laws on the books, with the strict provision however that those apartments be offered up at an affordable housing rate, a provision which has resulted in literally zero homeowners taking part in the effort.

The Smarter Cape Cod Initiative is pushing to establish a market-based solution which would likely provide the financial incentive for more homeowners to create apartments in their homes and ease housing burdens on area communities.

The proposal – the Accessory Dwelling Unit bylaw – has the added benefit of providing Cape homeowners the opportunity to bring in some extra income to help make ends meet.

A lack of adequate housing is frequently cited as a primary issue in getting younger professionals to make their homes on Cape Cod. It’s no secret that the cost of single-family homes in the area are expensive and there is little apartment inventory for younger would-be residents to choose from.

Basic economics teaches us that the creation of more apartment units will lead to a reduction in prices and presto the problem is solved – that’s the theory at least.

According to supporters the plan is a win-win-win. Good for the young professionals who now have a place to live, good for the communities combating a lack of housing options, and good for the homeowners who have increased the value of their properties and who now have some extra cash to go shopping or out to brunch. In that sense you could also make a case that it benefits the regional economy.

There would also be provisions to ensure that these Accessory Dwelling Units are rented on a year round basis, as simply creating more potential AirBnBs does little to quell the issue at hand.

Even provision supporters don’t see this initiative as a cure-all for the Cape’s housing crisis, what it could be however, is a tool moving forward, and a step in the right direction.

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