Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Editorial: The High Cost of Doing Nothing

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Wed, Nov 07, 2018 @ 02:11 PM

 

Housing Study-2 (October 24, 2018)

At Housing Assistance Corporation, we have been on the frontlines of providing affordable housing since 1974. Today, our 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. 

As the regional housing agency on Cape Cod, we decided to take a step back and analyze the internal and external causes of the region’s housing shortage, its impact and possible solutions. We 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”, that our agency released last month. 

For this report, we relied on the analysis of numerous sources. We interviewed business and community leaders about the effects of the housing crunch. The research and conversations shaped our thinking and recommended strategies. For example, in addition to developing affordable housing units, Housing Assistance Corporation is now investing in the development of market-rate units that will help alleviate the housing shortage. More year-round housing will change the supply dynamic in the marketplace and add more options for all income groups. 

Additionally, HAC is launching Rent 365, a pilot program that incentivizes homeowners to convert their seasonal or vacation homes into year-round rentals. 

This is a challenging time for our region. Low-income families suffer first and most acutely if we do nothing, but they are not alone. Uniting and finding purposeful strategies that mitigate and eventually solve our housing crisis will be of great benefit to our region. If we keep approaching housing in our region with the same old strategies, we will only continue to feed the worsening and self-perpetuating housing shortage for year-round residents. 

Let’s try some new ideas. 

I welcome your thoughts and your suggestions on how we can meet this challenge together.

Housing on Cape Cod: The High Cost of Doing Nothing

Visit www.capehousing.org to read HAC's new report which identifies new strategies for addressing the region's housing crisis. 

 

Tags: Housing on Cape Cod, Alisa Galazzi, white papers, housing research, rental housing, Rent 365, Editorial, housing crisis

HAC Report: Treatment Limited for Region's Homeless Addicts

Posted by Noah Hoffenberg on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 @ 11:32 AM

Closer_to_Home_White_Paper.jpg

Substance abuse treatment that serves homeless Cape and Islands residents is lacking, leaving the fringe demographic at risk and perpetuating the cycle of homelessness, addiction and societal expense, according to a new white paper written by Noah Hoffenberg, HAC’s director of housing information.

In “Closer to Home: Substance Abuse Treatment Options for the Homeless on the Cape and Islands,” the report finds that treatment in the region is limited; most sites are far away; and that wait times for a treatment bed can drag into months. While these difficulties pose problems for Cape Codders at all income levels, the danger for homeless people is magnified, as they have no housing, few resources and little in the way of support systems once they emerge from treatment. Relapse and treatment rates for the homeless are high, but can be mitigated by stable housing during and after treatment, studies cited in the report show.

Almost universally, experts cited in the HAC report decry the state’s lack of treatment beds. Daily occupancy for Massachusetts’ 868 detox beds hovers between 91 and 100 percent. Waits for detox average three to five days, and only 17 percent of the people emerging from detox can get a bed at a rehab facility because of lack of space. For people seeking long-term residential treatment, waits along coastal Massachusetts are close to a month. And for those seeking specialized treatment, such as the homeless, waits can be as long as 10 weeks.

The Cape and islands do have substance abuse infrastructure, but like the rest of the state, demand is greater than the supply; on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, the vacuum is even more acute. The region has one detox and one rehab facility, as well as two long-term recovery homes, but only 60 percent of substance abuse clients from the Cape and islands can be served here because of limits on capacity. Since the numbers of Cape Codders and Islanders with substance abuse disorders could easily fill all Cape treatment beds, it means that people seeking treatment – homeless and otherwise – must leave the region to receive services. Meanwhile, studies show – and Gosnold CEO Raymond Tamasi agrees – that treatment closer to home is far more effective than treatment afar.

The costs of the existing Cape system are high; one study pegged the cost of treatment and recovery at about $51,457,000 in 2013; related costs for law enforcement and corrections came to $56,900,000. Cape Cod Hospital alone, for example, reports that there’s been a 78 percent increase in Emergency Center (EC) staff hours to deal with behavioral health and substance abuse cases between 2011 and 2015. The hospital now deals with an average of 10.5 of these patients every 24 hours, with an average stay just shy of a day. By comparison, most other serious EC patients – such as cardiac cases – leave for the next level of care in less than six hours; the hours spent by the homeless in the EC is reflective of the absence of places to send them for treatment.

Treatment programs that include housing have been shown to be more effective, and even more so for programs that include an array of on-site services. Studies show that with Housing First efforts in place, homelessness, and hospital and justice system costs drop dramatically.

The HAC report compiles local, state and national data from governmental and independent studies, and takes a close look at what treatment options are available here, as well as effective examples elsewhere. 

To read the report, click here. For more information on the report and its findings, email Housing Information Director Noah Hoffenberg at nhoffenberg@haconcapecod.org.

Tags: homelessness, Cape Cod, substance abuse, white papers, housing research, Housing Information Department