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How to fix the housing crisis? Provincetown sending slate of ideas to Town Meeting

Phillip Capper, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In January, the median single-family home in Provincetown cost $1.8 million, according to the Association of Realtors, making Provincetown one of the state’s least affordable places to live.

Town officials have proposed a slate of 10 articles for Town Meeting designed to ease the crisis.

“It’s been very clear that we have to do more to address housing,” said Town Manager Alex Morse, who is getting ready to mark a year in the position.

The Select Board wants to make sure Provincetown’s housing goals translate into real policies, he said.

Morse said one of the most critical Town Meeting articles would dedicate 30 percent of room-tax revenue to housing. The room tax includes short-term rentals, and the revenue adds up, he said.

“We believe that short-term rentals have significantly contributed to the housing crisis … and we believe that the vast majority of revenue from those establishments should go directly back into affordable housing,” he said.

Town Meeting voters will be asked to consider purchase of a 1.7-acre parcel on Bradford Street, in the East End, for a combination of open space and up to 45 units of housing.

The town wants to create traditional affordable housing, but also year-round apartments for people who may earn upwards of $84,000, Morse said.

“That really is the range in which a lot of our year-round workers and even seasonal workers … would qualify,” he said.

Often, people whose income is too high to qualify for traditional affordable housing get left out of conversation about housing solutions, even though they can’t afford to buy a condominium in Provincetown, he said.

Other articles on the Town Meeting warrant would fund feasibility studies of building housing on town-owned properties, including the Veterans Memorial Community Center. Another would place a fee on professionally managed short-term rental units.

Town Meeting will also consider allowing four-story construction in the “general commercial” zoning area, provided the additional space meets the town’s housing goals.