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housing to
protect cape cod

Housing to Protect Cape Cod encourages local action by Cape Cod residents in support of year-round housing that is affordable for the people who make our communities work.

We need to update zoning so that we can build smaller, year-round homes closer together. Housing density in appropriate places makes the homes more affordable and achieves other community goals at the same time. We need to build more housing for our workforce to keep our towns economically and socially diverse, vibrant, and sustainable.

Most housing decisions are made at the local town level, which means each of us can make a difference. Find out below what you can do to help move housing forward in your town— join us and let’s make a brighter future!

Housing to Protect Cape Cod is an initiative of Housing Assistance Corporation of Cape Cod (HAC).

Myth Busting

Get the housing Facts

Busting the Myths About Affordable Housing

Many people are concerned about new workforce housing plans because they don’t want Cape Cod to change. But the fact is, the Cape is changing. We are losing many of the people who make our communities special because they can’t afford to live here. Our current zoning promotes building almost entirely single-family homes on large lots, which are too expensive for many year-rounders. We need to build smaller homes, closer together. Housing density decreases the cost of housing and provides many other community benefits, like reducing our environmental footprint and supporting thriving village centers.

The kind of housing we need is often called by different terms: moderate-density, workforce, affordable or attainable housing. And, many different types of buildings are included in these terms, from a small Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) built into a single-family home, to top-of-shop apartments, to townhouses, to apartment complexes with 30-50 units. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ design for affordable housing. Rather, there are many ways in which we can integrate more housing diversity and affordability into our existing community context. Town reviews and public comment are held to review the studies, designs and details for specific housing projects.

Not true.

Multi-family housing, with smaller units nearby for extended family and workers, was traditional on Cape Cod until the restrictive zoning of the ’80s emphasized single-family homes on large lots. The result was sprawl — not traditional village centers and neighborhoods. Most of the bustling village centers we love like Provincetown, Osterville, Falmouth and Chatham couldn’t be built under today’s zoning. They’re examples of traditional Cape Cod density.

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Not true.

Affordable housing comes in an assortment of shapes and sizes. Increasing density to make housing more affordable — that is, building smaller homes more closely together — can mean accessory dwelling units (ADUs) built into or next to existing homes, small developments like townhouses or cottage courts, and apartments above retail shops or office space.

Larger housing developments can also be well designed with green space so they match the context of their neighborhood. Examples are Melpet Farms in Dennis, or Lofts at 57 in Hyannis. To succeed in saving the Cape Cod we know and love, we need to add the right kind of housing in the right places.

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Not true.

Sprawling, single-family development increases strain on natural resources and reduces open spaces. Higher density housing, on the other hand, uses less land — it preserves open space and is less costly for towns to build and service their infrastructure, such as roads and wastewater.

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Not true.

Thousands of people currently commute over the bridges during rush hours twice a day on weekdays. If people can afford to live closer to their work, there will be fewer commuters clogging our roads. That’s good for traffic and the environment. And walkable village centers that include affordable housing mean fewer people driving to run errands and more people supporting local businesses.

Between both bridges, there are an average of 5,493 automobiles traveling southbound during morning commuting hours and an average of 6,293 automobiles traveling northbound during the evening commute (MA Department of Transportation, 2021).

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Not true.

Multiple studies show no difference between property values near higher density developments and those less dense. Some Cape towns with higher density, mixed-use downtowns even have higher property values than those with lower density main streets. Think Mashpee, Falmouth, Chatham and Provincetown! A mix of commercial and residential activity creates a vibrant setting that enhances community character and value.

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Not true.

Half the people on Section 8 vouchers are disabled or senior citizens. Most affordable rentals are for people who make 60% or less than the Area Median Income (AMI) — which means they work full-time for $15 for hour, typical wage for shops or health care assistant. To purchase a deed-restricted affordable home, buyers must have really good credit and reliable jobs making 80% or less than Area Median Income.

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Not true.

Having quality housing in your community that is affordable to all income levels builds a stronger economy. When families have housing that’s affordable to them, they can spend money on other things, including at local businesses, which helps sustain a year-round economy. When affordable housing is readily available, more opportunities are created for people at all income levels.

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There have also been several in-depth studies about moderate-density housing on Cape Cod that answer frequently asked questions.

How does building more housing fit with the environmental goals of our region?

Check out the Cape Cod Commission’s Regional Policy Plan

What could moderate density housing look like on Cape Cod?

Check out Union Studios Missing Middle case study showcasing design approaches that reflect Cape Cod community preferences for increased housing density.

local action
is the answer

Get involved Today

Want to Get Involved?

Sign Housing Petition

Sign the Housing to Protect Cape Cod petition to let local leaders know that increasing workforce housing is important in your town.

stay informed

Add me to your Housing to Protect Cape Cod email list to get resources about how to speak up for housing.

Spread the Word

Share on social media and talk to neighbors about the importance of increasing workforce housing on Cape Cod.

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