Hundreds gather in Hyannis to launch 'Save the Locals' campaign for housing more can afford
Hundreds of people packed a ballroom in Hyannis yesterday for the launch of a new public policy campaign called Housing to Protect Cape Cod.
Led by the Housing Assistance Corporation, the campaign is calling for zoning changes to allow smaller housing units, built closer together, so more people can afford to stay on Cape Cod.
Alisa Magnotta, CEO of the Housing Assistance Corporation, said the Cape needs more accessory dwelling units, apartments over stores and offices, and new developments that match the context of the neighborhood.
“I'm hoping that from this point forward, we will all commit to getting involved, understanding the implications of the zoning we have and the implications of the zoning that we need,” she said. “Today is the day of action.”
Consultant Tim Cornwell of The Concord Group presented the results of a new study commissioned by the Housing Assistance Corporation of Cape Cod’s housing market and the benefits of housing development.
It says households that earn $100,000 or less are being rapidly displaced, and that the Cape will likely lose 829 of those households every year through 2026.
The launch event at the Cape Codder yesterday included a panel of business leaders moderated by Paul Niedzwiecki, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.
Panelists from the fields of health care, home construction, hospitality, human services, and child care spoke of their employees’ difficulty finding stable housing and the challenge it presents for hiring and retaining workers.
Panelist Stacie Peugh, CEO of the Cape Cod YMCA, a major childcare provider, said the lack of staff has dramatically reduced the number of slots for childcare.
“The Y can currently manage 50 percent of the capacity that we had pre-COVID,” she said. “And I have three centers under construction that I will not be able to open because there are zero staff to fill those.”
The campaign is using the hashtag #savethelocals.
In addition to the Housing Assistance Corporation and Chamber of Commerce, supporters include home builders and the Cape & Islands Association of Realtors.
Association of Realtors CEO Ryan Castle said current zoning makes sprawl the path of least resistance for developers.
“The places we love around Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, you could not build today,” he said, referring to village centers whose dense, mixed-use buildings have been grandfathered into present-day zoning.
“What you're getting is the path of least resistance today, and that's why our housing strategy has failed,” he said.
The campaign is urging supporters to sign an online petition and join their local zoning and planning boards.