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Coastal Engineering Company of Orleans Cape Cod

2018 Cape Cod Housing Insights [Curated Articles]

Published November 26, 2018 by John A. Bologna,

Coastal Engineering Company has curated top three articles which provide insights on the state of Cape Cod housing in 2018. 

1. Housing on Cape Cod: The High Cost of Doing Nothing by Housing Assistance Corporation

As the regional housing agency on Cape Cod, Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) has been on the frontlines of providing affordable housing since 1974. Today, their challenges have never been greater. The shrinking supply of year-round housing is getting worse. It is impacting families, businesses, and municipalities. It is a threat to the health of our economy and the very character of Cape Cod. 

The reasons behind this crisis are simple. Since Cape Cod is a desirable location to live and vacation, non-residents and investors are increasingly buying existing year-round properties and converting them into short-term rentals or keeping them for their own occasional use. The stock of year-round housing is rapidly depleting and therefore, prices are out of reach for Cape Cod residents. 

HAC decided to take a step back and analyze the internal and external causes of the region’s housing shortage, its impact, and, most importantly, possible solutions. They started with two simple questions — what would happen if we did nothing? What more can we do?

Those questions formed the basis of a white paper, “Housing On Cape Cod: The High Cost of Doing Nothing”, released in October 2018.

2. Plymouth Seeks to Invigorate Economy with Innovative Housing by Cape and Plymouth Business

In 1620 the first European-style village was built in Plymouth. It looks like Plymouth may once again be leading the way when it comes to innovative housing in the Commonwealth. The town has always recognized the need to be flexible and the need for different types of housing in the community. In 2016, South Shore Chamber of Commerce released a plan for the region’s future economic growth called South Shore 2030: Choosing Our Future.

According to the report, housing inventory on the South Shore is too low, with the result that many young people, and young families, are priced out of the market. The report says there are warning signs that current demographic trends will not lead to sustainable growth, but rather, could lead to a downward cycle of lost jobs, declining services and lower property values.

While the population of the South Shore ages, planners say more must be done to attract those in their early 20s and mid-30s.  The theory is that developments located near vibrant neighborhoods and transit will attract young people who commute, and eventually attract companies looking to relocate near a strong workforce.

Success of the plan will require many players working in the same direction, since the plan encompassed housing, commerce, transportation, and infrastructure. The chamber is seeking to work closely with private developers, community leaders, and government officials to implement their housing plan recommendations.

October 2018 Cape and Plymouth Business article titled "Plymouth Seeks to Invigorate Economy with Innovative Housing" highlights several Plymouth projects that are successfully implementing ideas outlined in the chamber’s vision.

3. HIVE 50 Profile: The Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute Helps Developers Tap Into the Power of Design

A program of Boston-based Enterprise Community Partners, the Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute (AHDLI) works to create more aesthetically pleasing affordable housing projects. While there’s no shortage of architects and developers who believe well-designed affordable housing can help solve social issues,  creating attractive low-income housing takes a lot of patience and hard work.

The reasons for this are many. Affordable housing is a subset of architecture with a complex development process and multiple clients—residents, developers, managers, and government agencies, among others. For over eight years, AHDLI has worked to help stakeholders in this diverse realm come together to understand the challenges and create aesthetically pleasing projects. During that time, one of the most important "aha" moments was this: "He or she who controls the pro forma is the ultimate designer of the project". AHDLI wants the people who are making the decisions to be the people who are fighting for good design. Read more in the article titled "HIVE 50 Profile: The Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute Helps Developers Tap Into the Power of Design".