New Report Highlights Cape Cod’s Growing Housing Crisis

HYANNIS – A growing concern over the lack of year-round housing opportunities on Cape Cod has led to a new report from the Housing Assistance Corporation.

The nonprofit housing advocacy organization says an increase of clients who lost stable rental housing for seasonal guests led to a further analysis of the market.

HAC’s white paper, “Housing on Cape Cod: The High Cost of Doing Nothing,” identifies causes of the regional housing shortage, its impact on the economy and recommended solutions.

“In the past five years we have lost 3,000 year-round units and we have gained 6,000 seasonal homes,” said Alisa Galazzi, HAC’s CEO. “That put’s an artificial pressure on the housing market and impacts our competitiveness of the region and mainly for our employers and their ability to retain and attract workforce.”

HAC’s research shows that the housing instability for year-round renters due to more seasonal units is a trend.

“We’ve heard about it anecdotally, but our research is proving, for sure, this is something, as a region, we should be paying attention to,” Galazzi said.

Owners of second homes are turning to seasonal units as new technology and online services have made it easier to handle rentals.

Zoning restrictions are also adding to the lack of year-round housing as they do not allow for appropriate and denser development.

“We kind of have an artificial barrier in our region as it is because of our zoning and then that combination with what is happening in the market place makes it a unique situation,” Galazzi said.

Galazzi said the Cape is at a crisis point.

“We should really be stopping as a region and making sure that we are purposeful and intentionally addressing the change that is inevitable and the change that is happening so that we maintain and preserve the Cape Cod that we all love and know,” she said.

Galazzi said the longer the wait to solve the issue, or “cost of doing nothing,” will result in a reduction of services and an increase in the cost of goods across the Cape.

“We can look at our neighbors around us, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, and we can see where this is going and pretty soon it is going to be a place where none of us can afford to live,” she said.

Galazzi said there are short- and long-term fixes.

“There are things that we can actually do today with ADU’s (accessory dwelling unit) and with converting some of these seasonal homes to year-round leases – we can add inventory quickly,” she said. “And then long-term change some zoning so that we can start adding development and building more houses.”

HAC also announced the launch of a new pilot program, Rent 365, which aims to incentivize owners of second homes to rent year-round.

“We have 60,000 seasonal homes in the region,” Galazzi said. “Can we get any of those home owners to convert to a year-round lease?”

The program offers wrap around services, best practices on tenant selection, along with a financial incentive to try to get homeowners to use their homes for year-round rental units.

HAC will also increase its advocacy effort.

“We know that an educated populous who can get out and get to zoning meetings and town meeting and advocate for more housing for all income levels is going to make a difference in the marketplace,” Galazzi said.

HAC officials will be meeting with selectmen and town officials to discuss the recent findings and solutions.

Galazzi said it is a regional issue.

“We feel strongly that if we can share the information and get everybody up to speed that together, united we can make a difference here,” she said.

The full report can be found at capehousing.org.

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