One important way in which the Cape Cod Commission addresses the area's affordable housing needs is through the provision of planning assistance at the regional and local levels. Regionally, this has involved implementing and updating the Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan and providing input and assistance to other regional planning efforts. Locally, it has meant working with towns in both developing affordable housing zoning bylaws and encouraging and providing funding for the development of Housing Production Plans that are consistent with the state's Chapter 40B (Comprehensive Permit) regulations. The Housing Production Plans can then serve as the basis for the affordable housing sections of town Local Comprehensive Plans.
The Commission's affordable housing specialist is playing an active role in efforts designed to address the overall community development needs of Cape Cod. Early on this involved contributing to the creation of the Lower Cape Cod Community Development Corporation, now renamed the Community Development Partnership (CDP); the CDP is a nonprofit organization committed to addressing the affordable housing and economic development needs of the eight towns that make up the Lower Cape. Another significant effort included the development of an affordable independent and assisted living residence on the site of the closed Barnstable County Hospital in Bourne. In Spring 2008, the Commission compiled a compendium of successful regional affordable housing efforts and published Affordable Housing Strategies: Regional Best Practices Toolkit.
The Cape Cod Commission's regulatory process helps address the Cape's affordable housing needs. Residential development projects subject to Commission review are required to set aside 10 percent of their development for affordable housing. The applicant has the option of meeting this requirement through provision of on-site units/lots, use of off-site lots/units, a cash contribution, or through some combination of these options.
Commercial development projects subject to Commission review are required to provide mitigation for the impacts that below-average-wage jobs have on the need for affordable housing. Applicants who provide information that their developments will create more above-average-wage jobs than that determined by the 2005 Barnstable County Nexus Study will receive a reduction in the mitigation. The methodology for determining the amount of mitigation credit is contained in Technical Bulletin 09-001: DRI Guidelines for Mitigation Credit and Reduction for MPS AH 3.2. A related document supports the Regional Policy Plan Minimum Performance Standard AH 3.3: Notice of Annual Adjustment of Affordable Housing Mitigation for Commercial Developments of Regional Impact (DRIs), updated in March 2011. The methodology for calculating the number of jobs that will pay less than the regional average wage in the formula for "other uses in Minimum Performance Standard AH 3.1 is contained in Technical Bulletin 10-001: Guidelines for Calculation of Mitigation for DRIs in "Other" Category for Minimum Performance Standard AH 3.1.