State Housing Official Speaks at Hyannis Forum

HYANNIS – The Cape Housing Institute, hosted by the Housing Assistance Corporation, was held Friday at the Cape Codder Resort and featured a top state housing official.

The free, sold-out event brought Realtors together with municipal representatives and community leaders to find solutions to ongoing housing needs in the area.

Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy was the event’s keynote speaker.

In his address, he outlined the housing crisis currently facing the Commonwealth, and mentioned that other communities across the country are seeing accelerated housing development.

“This is a real problem,” Kennealy said.

“We’ve got a real problem now for a long time in Massachusetts. It’s a problem for our citizens, it’s a problem for our communities, it’s a problem for our businesses.”

Specifically, Kennealy pointed to the dwindling number of housing units produced by the state. From 1960 to 1990, the state produced 900,000 housing units, compared to the 435,000 units developed from 1990 to the present day.

This has led to rent and home values both rising by around 75% since 2000.

Kennealy advised that efforts are being made by the state government to improve circumstances, but did argue in favor of one strategy going forward.

“So, what we need to do at the end of the day is make it easier for cities and towns to develop the housing that they need, that works for them,” he said.

“Right now, it’s very hard to do that.”

Kennealy said part of the problem is that since the 1920’s, any rezoning of a property falls within local control with a two-thirds majority vote required for approval.

Kennealy wants to see this lowered to a simple majority and added that laws have to change with the times.

He also talked about the factor of temporary employment on Cape Cod, and how attracting a more permanent workforce is vital for the area in the future.

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About Brendan Fitzpatrick

Brendan, a recent graduate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is one of the newest members of the NewsCenter team. When not on the beat, you'll probably find him watching Boston sports.
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