Report Highlights Difficulty in Obtaining Housing Help on Cape Cod



HYANNIS – Finding year-round apartments on Cape Cod and the Islands is not an easy task, and the news is even worse for individuals and families trying to use or secure federal Housing Choice rental vouchers.

According to an analysis of 2015 Housing Assistance Corporation data, only 50 percent of those who received a housing subsidy voucher were able to use it on Cape Cod or the Islands.

Many voucher recipients are forced to move off-Cape to use the voucher, lose it, or stay in the region in high priced, overcrowded or unsafe homes.

The wait list to receive assistance vouchers in the region is also 7 to 10 years, which is five times longer than the national average.

Federal support for the Housing Choice program is far exceeded by demand as 75 percent of eligible families receive no aid.

Housing Information Director for HAC Noah Hoffenberg said the problems on the Cape and Islands are twofold.

“It’s a grossly underfunded system and it’s also an immense shortage of housing for folks across all income levels,” Hoffenberg said.

Rick Presbrey, the President and CEO of HAC, reiterated the lack of federal support for housing assistance programs.

“What it means is that it’s not really a resource,” he said. “It just means that this big program everybody worries about is not really a resource for people. It pretends to be but it isn’t.”

Individuals and families who spend more than a third of their total income on rent and utilities are considered to be cost burdened.

“What that means is you are forgoing medical care in order to pay your rent,” Hoffenberg said. “You are forgoing car repairs. You are forgoing clothing – not just for you – but for your family members and your children.”

A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development study says the most effective way to help and stabilize at-risk and low income families is to provide rental subsidies.

“It just has these reverberating, positive effects and yet it is constantly an underfunded program,” Hoffenberg said.

Presbrey said homeless occurs most frequently in areas of high housing costs.

“We’re a high cost area and we don’t have particularly good jobs” he said. “That’s really the reason why HAC exists.”

Presbrey said HAC can’t do the whole job.

“What we have found out in 42 years is that we can’t and haven’t changed the whole system,” he said. “We have to look at the community and what we can do to change the system if we want to be a healthy, well-balanced, diverse community.”

The whole report can be read at


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