Housing Institute Praised for Impact on Town Meetings

HYANNIS – A program last year to educate local officials about housing issues seems to have paid off at spring town meetings across the Cape.

The Housing Institute, which was a collaboration between Housing Assistance Corporation and the Community Development Partnership, started last fall to help provide training to 140 town officials, along with other interested citizens.

The institute was an educational component of the Cape Community Housing Partnership. The six-week series of workshops was designed to provide participants with the tools and skills needed to tackle the issue of affordable housing.

“We’re seeing an impact that is way beyond our expectations for our first year,” said Jay Coburn, the CDP Executive Director.

Coburn said several housing initiatives were approved on the eight Lower Cape towns.

“Collectively over the last several weeks, those towns have approved spending in excess of $1 million using Community Preservation as well as general tax revenue to fund affordable housing initiatives,” he said.

In Truro, residents voted to place $250,000 into their Affordable Housing Trust and voted to allow condominiums to be occupied year round.

Harwich voters approved money for Habitat for Humanity.

Wellfleet Town Meeting appropriated over $500,000 in Community Preservation Funds for housing and approved a workforce housing initiative that offers forgivable loans to first time Homebuyers.

“In something quite groundbreaking, both Wellfleet and Orleans have chipped in to help fund a rather large project that is going to go under construction this summer in the town of Eastham,” Coburn said.

Wellfleet voted to use $100,000 in CPC funds to help build the 65 unit Eastham development.

Coburn said the Housing Institute provided a lot of information about models for affordable housing, along with getting town officials responsible for hosuing policy together in the same room.

“In the final session of the Housing Institute we had people gather together by town and really start focusing on what is it that they could do to take what they had learned and put it into action,” Coburn said. “I think that the results that we are seeing over the last several weeks clearly shows that they were really dedicated to action.”

Another Housing Institute is being planned for this fall. In the interim, full- or half-day workshops will be offered to provide an opportunity to dive deeper into affordable housing finance or creating affordable housing trusts.

Participants of the workshops last fall are also meeting quarterly throughout the year sub-regionally to provide updates.

Interested town officials on the Mid and Upper Cape should contact Laura Reckford with the Housing Assistance Corporation. Those on the Outer and Lower Cape should contact Andrea Aldana at the Community Development Partnership.

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