© 2023
Local NPR for the Cape, Coast & Islands 90.1 91.1 94.3
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Nonprofit highlights housing crisis' effects on Cape Cod students

Courtesy Housing Assistance Corporation

A nonprofit held an event in Hyannis this week to show how children on the Cape are being affected by the region’s housing crisis.

Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) displayed 100 drawings by local second-graders of what home means to them in their ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is’ exhibit.

Some drawings were of houses and families while others featured words like 'comfortable' and 'safe' that focused on the feeling of home.

Housing Assistance's CEO Alisa Magnotta said some of the children who made the art are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.

She said the group wanted to frame the issues from kids’ points of view.

“We felt like incorporating the voices of the children and students - their innocence and perspective - is just so eye-opening and pure. It really hits home right to the heart of the issue and we wanted to bring them into the story.”

Magnotta noted hundreds of local families lose their winter rentals this time of year, with the Cape’s rental market having about a 1% vacancy rate as they try to relocate.

She said between 100 and 200 children live in one of HAC's family shelters on the Cape every year.

Children's artwork at the event.
Brian Engles
Student artwork at the event.

Superintendent of the Monomoy Regional School District Dr. Scott Carpenter spoke at the event.

He said families with children in Monomoy schools want to stay but are being priced out of the area.

“They grew up here, they want to remain on the Cape. But they can’t figure out, ‘How do I with a $60,000 salary make it work to have a young family grow up here?’ So we’re getting pinched on both ends, the families that we serve and the staff that we want to hire.”

Carpenter said one teaching position in the district remained open for years because seven candidates who were all offered the job at different times couldn’t find housing on the Cape.

Career Education Counselor for Monomoy Regional High School Cheri Armstrong also gave remarks about a student whose family was forced to relocate to a campground when they lost their housing.

Armstrong said the mother wanted to protect her son so told him they moved there to live a more natural lifestyle.

“This was somebody that was sheltering their own child from the issue of homelessness and that story touched me so much. Despite the resources, of which there are many on Cape Cod of which we have access to, the reality is there’s just no housing on Cape Cod - whether you can afford it or not.”

The ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is’ student artwork will remain on display in front of HAC’s Hyannis office through the rest of June.

Brian Engles is an author, a Cape Cod local, and a producer for Morning Edition.