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New accessory dwelling resource center announced for Lower, Outer Cape to address housing shortage

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Representative Sarah Peake

A partnership to encourage the development of accessory dwelling units from Harwich to Provincetown was recently announced.

The new resource center is a collaborative between the Community Development Partnership and the Homeless Prevention Council, both housing initiatives for the Lower and Outer Cape.

The new collaboration is called the Lower Cape Housing & ADU Resource Center, and was established with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“The creation and implementation of the Lower Cape Housing & ADU Resource Center was my top priority when the Legislature began to distribute ARPA funds,” said Provincetown Representative Sarah Peake, in a recent press release. “The $1 million earmark I secured for the HPC and CDP afforded them the ability to obtain the resources they need to craft innovative solutions to the housing crisis."

The new collaborative, Peake said, "will tremendously help stabilize and secure housing for the local workforce and our residents who are at the greatest risk of becoming homeless.”

Accessory dwelling units are apartments made above a garage or out of a walk-in basement. Several towns on the Cape and the state have worked to pass legislation to make the apartments easier to build for homeowners. But this new center is an effort to guide homeowners through the process.

Development partnership CEO Jay Coburn says understanding zoning alone — to be able to build these special units — can be daunting for homeowners, but the center will help navigate local zoning rules. And he says that accessory units could help immediate housing needs.

"I am confident that this resource center is going to help remove some of the barriers to getting accessory dwelling units built and certainly help us a lot to at least make a dent in the problems, and really fix the challenges that we’re facing," he told CAI.

Homeless Prevention Council CEO Hadley Luddy tells CAI the need for housing has skyrocketed on the Cape since the pandemic. The council helps stabilize living conditions for Lower Cape residents, whether that's helping them make rent payments, or finding a new place to live. Luddy says they've seen an increase in requests for help by about 60 percent since the start of the pandemic. That's made a bad housing issue on the Cape worse.

Exploring any and all innovative ways to build new places to live is critical, she says.

“So whether that’s multi-family housing units, or our local friends and neighbors deciding they should finally finish that space above their garage and create a year round apartment, it’s going to take all these efforts to make progress."

Funding for the partnership will go toward hiring staff and for pre-construction costs for accessory apartments.