Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Editorial: Help Preserve the Cape and Islands Communities We All Cherish

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Wed, Dec 26, 2018 @ 04:49 PM

Galazzi_HACbeat (2017)

Living year-round on Cape Cod is not a place for the faint of heart or those who want to go fast. It’s a place where deep connections and a sense of community are sustained. It’s a place where awe-inspiring beauty surrounds us even in the most mundane of activities like commuting to work; where our great schools and community resources weave an enviable region-wide network of services. It’s a place where our unique history, the family legacies of generational Cape Codders, and a welcome stream of new residents form the foundation from which we all grow and prosper.

Preserving the year-round aspects of the Cape we all know and love is a worthy and challenging undertaking. It will take all of us working together in new ways to achieve it.

I frequently hear from other residents their desire to keep the Cape the same. I appreciate the sentiment. I, too, remember fondly the Cape of 2001 when I first moved here. There are many aspects of the Cape’s seemingly slow-to-change cultures and communities that is reassuring.

However, the fact is that external forces in the marketplace are changing faster than any of us expected, and those forces will change our communities for the worse if we don’t take new action. The advent of online rental platforms like Airbnb, coupled with the Cape being known as a safe investment to off-Cape investors, has put increased pressure on the year-round housing market.

We have seen a decrease of year-round rentals and an increase in seasonal rentals. Our year-round workforce is having a harder and harder time finding housing. The sooner we as a community accept the trend, the better decisions we will make to influence the outcome.

Impacting Our Region

Even though most of us reading this likely have a permanent residence on the Cape or may own a second home here, the hidden costs of a limited supply of year-round rentals presents a significant challenge for our region.

Lack of housing for our year-round workforce will influence our local businesses’ ability to innovate and our relevance as a tourist destination. Those of us stably housed will be impacted with higher costs of goods and services and ultimately by living in a museum—our current year-round friends and neighbors will be replaced by visitors from off-Cape.

So while we prepare to embark on a new year, let’s be grateful that each of us is in a position to influence changes necessary to preserve the place we live and love.

We can advocate at the town level to increase housing available to year-round residents. For example, towns can allow Accessory Dwelling Units by right; update zoning to permit denser, walkable neighborhoods in appropriate locations; and link wastewater planning with housing needs.

In addition, we invite seasonal homeowners to consider renting their home year-round through our Rent 365 program. Learn more about the financial incentive and details of our Rent 365 program and download a copy of our recently published report on the impact of insufficient year-round housing at www.CapeHousing.org

We have an opportunity to maintain the competitiveness of Cape Cod as a vacation destination, a retirement community, and a place for year-round families to thrive—but only if we have housing for our year-round workforce.

This effort will take community-wide involvement. Please contact us if you have ideas, questions, or comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Tags: Housing on Cape Cod, Report, Alisa Galazzi, Editorial, Accessory Dwelling Units, housing crisis, Rent 365, Airbnb, housing advocacy, seasonal rentals

New Report Shows HAC's Economic Impact on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 @ 11:15 AM

 HAC's Economic Impact Photo.jpg

On the surface, there is an economic value to the work HAC does. But how specifically is that value measured?

HAC intern James Boyd provided those key details this summer, working with staff to update the agency’s Economic Impact Study which was first prepared in 2003. The paper looks at the impact that both HAC’s housing programs and the organization, as an employer, have on the Cape Cod economy.

James, the 2015 class valedictorian at Mashpee High School, is now a sophomore at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

From a programmatic perspective, the study stresses that not only is HAC’s work socially and morally important, “but as a growing body of economic research and analysis confirms, it is an economic necessity in a services driven economy.” That work ranges from developing affordable housing to providing shelter to the homeless to helping clients achieve homeownership through education, counseling and financial support.

Because of these programs, nearly $17 million of HAC’s $23.6 million budget in fiscal year 2016 came to the agency from off-Cape sources. These sources included the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); the state Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA); the state Department of Mental Health (DMH); and the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

The economic boost this funding provides to the region can be seen in the $9.7 million in rental subsidies HAC managed in 2015. Those funds had a direct, tangible impact on Cape Cod, keeping 1,019 low- and moderate-income residents – these included workers, seniors and disabled people – safely housed. But it added another value as 77% of those funds ($7.47 million) went to Cape property owners who serve as landlords for rental units that provide affordable housing on Cape Cod.

James_Edited.jpgHAC intern James Boyd with HAC staffers Laura Reckford (from left), Mary LeClair, Margaret Benaka, Deanna Bussiere and Mary Everett-Patriquin. During his internship, James updated HAC's Economic Impact report to show the value the agency has on the region.

Another HAC program that provides an economic boost to the region is the Down Payment and Closing Cost Program, which HAC administers through Barnstable County using HUD funds. Last year, the program provided 10 families with $81,668 in down payment and closing cost assistance, helping them purchase homes in Barnstable County. Those funds had an additional economic benefit, going to support local real estate agents, attorneys and lenders who helped those families in the home buying process.

Impact as an Employer
HAC’s economic impact on the region goes well beyond the services it provides to clients. As one of the largest human service agencies on Cape Cod, the impact can also be seen in its role as an employer. With a payroll of $6.3 million, HAC employed 136 people in 2015. Of that number, 128 live on Cape Cod. The study estimates that HAC employees spent $3.6 million of their income on non-housing related expenses, keeping a large portion of that money in the local community.

“The salaries and wages HAC paid to its employees are important parts of HAC’s regional economic impact,” the study states. “These earnings enable employees to support themselves and their families and generate economic benefits for their communities and the businesses they use.”

The report anticipates that HAC’s impact on the region will only continue to grow in conjunction with the need for quality affordable housing to sustain Cape Cod’s economy. This will serve to strengthen not only the agency, but the region as well. “A greater HAC contribution to the region’s economy inevitably means greater interdependence,” it reads. “More than ever, partnerships between HAC and municipal, state, and federal government agencies, as well as between HAC and the Cape Cod businesses with which it operates, will be a prerequisite for growth.”

Tags: HAC, Economic Impact, Report, James Boyd