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Cape Cod Commission implements new affordable housing strategies

The Cape Cod Commission released a regional housing strategy in May. Now, the commission is in the implementation phase of its endeavor to improve affordable housing on Cape Cod.
Cape Cod Commission
The Cape Cod Commission released a regional housing strategy in May. Now, the commission is in the implementation phase of its endeavor to improve affordable housing on Cape Cod.

The Cape Cod Commission is beginning to move on a new regional housing strategy that aims to help address the region’s affordable housing crisis.

The Cape Cod Commission released the strategy in May, which laid out a series of recommendations.

One of those recommendations was to develop pre-approved housing plans. The idea is that towns and developers can use these pre-approved plans to speed up the permitting and construction of affordable housing projects, Cape Cod Commission executive director Kristy Senatori said.

“We’ll provide these pre-approved plans to the communities, and this will provide greater predictability, not only for the decision-makers in the community, the stakeholders, but for the developers also,” Senatori said. “The builders will have a better sense of what’s most likely to be approved within each of the communities.”

The commission is working with the architecture firm Flintlock LAB to develop these plans.

“We’ll be looking at about a dozen different types of housing units,” Senatori said. “Some of them might be accessory dwelling units, duplexes – those kind of ‘missing middle’ housing that we have so little of here in the region.”

These plans will be developed with stakeholder input to ensure the designs fit the character of Cape Cod, Senatori said.

The commission is also working to establish a regional housing land bank and community land trust.

Senatori said while developing the housing strategy, her team heard from town staff that it can be slow and challenging for towns to acquire land for affordable housing. With 86 percent of land on Cape Cod already developed or under conservation, not much is left for towns to develop affordable housing, the Cape Cod Commission website says.

“One of the key recommendations outlined in the strategy includes establishing a regional housing land bank and a community land trust that will work together to acquire properties and facilitate the development or redevelopment of affordable and attainable housing on Cape Cod,” Senatori said.

The Cape Cod Commission is contracting with the design firm Outwith Studio to do much of the planning necessary to launch the land bank.

County commissioners voiced their support for these strategies in their meeting last week.

Gilda Geist is a reporter, a producer on Morning Edition, and the local host of Saturday Weekend Edition.