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Study ties housing 'monoculture' to increase in cost-burdened households

A new study prepared for the Cape Cod Commission ties a lack of housing that meets the region’s life stage and income needs to a significant increase in cost-burdened households over the next 10 years.

The data-rich report prepared by Crane Associates and Economic and Policy Resources (EPR), both of Vt., confirms the complex and unique pressures at play in the Cape Cod housing market. The study projects that without changes in the housing supply to meet life stage preferences, more than half of year-round households could experience housing cost burdens by 2025.

Titled "Regional Housing Market Analysis and 10-Year Forecast of Housing Supply and Demand," the report provides objective baseline data on the state of housing on Cape Cod, with a look 10 years down the road.

"These findings should be used as a foundation for more analysis and to inform local and regional policies related to housing opportunity and jobs,” Jeff Carr, President, EPR.

The study used a gap analysis between what residents can afford and what's available in the market as an indicator of housing cost stress. It represents the number of existing households spending 30% or more of monthly income on housing, and are therefore expected to be home cost burdened.

From the 2015 baseline year, the study shows the greatest housing stress is felt by those earning 80% or less than Barnstable County's median income. In 10 years, the effect on the lower end of earners increases and deserves continued attention. More striking, however, is how housing stress climbs through higher tiers of income. By 2025, the greatest increase in burdened households are with those earning 100% to 120% of the projected median income.

The high demand for seasonal units combined with a housing "monoculture" of single family homes constrains housing options for those looking to enter the market or downsize.

"We recommend that Cape Codder’s plan for life stages through better urban design and consider planning for a housing product that doesn’t exist," said Michael Crane, President, Crane Associates. "Smaller, Cape Cod ‘style’ units, ideally in community centers, walkable to amenities, with storage, are needed for downsizing seniors and active young people."

The study makes a number of recommendations for the Commission to consider as it develops new housing policies. These will be considered in the broader context of the Regional Policy Plan update to align all regional policies and planning efforts.

"This isn't a problem we can build our way out of under the regulations of the past," Cape Cod Commission Executive Paul Niedzwiecki said. "If we create the right environment and appropriate opportunities for higher density, we could see the market respond and close these gaps."

Working with existing data sets and some developed specifically for the study, the Housing Market Analysis provides a level of insight not previously available for Barnstable County. The demographic and economic model developed by Crane Associates and EPR was refined with the guidance of experts from Provincetown to Falmouth. The resulting forecast is an expression of what could be, given the best understanding of local land use constraints.

Data was developed for the county as a whole, as well as for subregions -Upper, Mid, Lower and Outer Cape – and each of the 15 Cape towns. This deeper dive shows that the greatest changes will be in towns that start with a better balance between wages and home prices.

"Through better community design we can break this cycle,” Niedzwiecki said.

The final report and supporting data developed for the analysis are available at www.capecodcommission.org/housingstudy.

Item Last Updated September 12, 2017


Public comment open on 208 Plan Implementation Report

The Cape Cod Commission released the Draft 2017 Implementation Report for the Cape Cod Water Quality Management Plan, better known as the 208 Plan. Public comment is open through September 18, 2017.

The 2017 Implementation Report recognizes the success toward implementation in all 15 towns and the region over the past year, and acknowledges the challenges that remain. It identifies 11 priority watersheds in the region where action must be taken over the next 12 months.

The Commission is also releasing watershed reports that outline potential nitrogen management scenarios for each of the Cape’s 53 embayment watersheds. For many communities, watershed reports reflect years of planning and progress.

The Implementation Report reviews the progress made toward improving the regulatory process to better meet the challenges of diffuse, non-point source nutrient pollution and accommodate the use of non-traditional approaches. Once the Implementation Report is approved by state and federal regulators, the Cape Cod Commission will provide towns with further guidance on changes to the regulatory review of water quality management plans and local implementation for the coming year.

Public comment is open for the 2017 Implementation Report through Monday, September 18, 2017. They are available for download at www.capecodcommission.org/208.

Comments can be forwarded to Erin Perry, Special Projects Manager, at eperry@capecodcommission.org, or mailed to:

Cape Cod Commission
Attn: 208 Plan Implementation Report
P.O. Box 226
Barnstable, MA 02630

Item Last Updated August 21, 2017


Route 28 Eastern Mashpee Corridor Study Public Meeting September 27, 2017

Cape Cod Commission, Town of Barnstable and Town of Mashpee staff will host the second of three public meetings to discuss the Route 28 Eastern Mashpee Corridor Study 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 27, 2017 the Mashpee Public Library (64 Steeple Street, Mashpee). The meeting will discuss identified potential improvement alternatives from the initial meeting in July.

The section of Route 28 from Route 130 to Orchard Road was identified as a priority for investigation based on the congestion and safety issues experienced on this section of roadway.

This section of road is often congested, with particularly significant back-ups experienced during summer months. This congestion is a barrier to regional travel as well as access to local businesses and residences. Additionally, safety issues exist at many locations along the corridor with more than 150 crashes occurring along this stretch of road over a three-year period.

Also of key concern is accommodation for all road users including motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users. This is a heavily used corridor for non-motorized users looking to access their jobs and retail destinations from their neighborhoods.

The Cape Cod Commission, under the 2017 Unified Planning Work Program, is conducting a transportation planning study for the area with the goal of developing alternatives that will provide safe and convenient access within the study area for all users of the roadway system including pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists.

Potential context-sensitive improvements will look to improve safety, reduce congestion, and improve accommodations for all users.

The latest project information is available on the Route 28 Corridor Study website:


Steven Tupper, Transportation Planner

Item Last Updated September 6, 2017


CEDS 2017 Annual Report Available

The Cape Cod Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) annual report for Year 3 of the 2014 CEDS Five-year Plan is now available.


Item Last Updated July 5, 2017


Enabling Regulations - Fee Schedule Revised

The fee schedule for the Cape Cod Commission's CHAPTER A: Enabling Regulations Governing Review of Developments of Regional Impact has been revised, effective July 1, 2017.

Item Last Updated June 30, 2017


Commission receives $50K Grant to Assist Local Water Quality Efforts

The Cape Cod Commission was awarded $50,000 to create a stormwater management coalition to help Cape communities meet stormwater management requirements.

The grant award was formally announced by Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew A. Beaton during his June 22 keynote speech at the OneCape Summit in Hyannis.

Work toward a coordinated effort started informally through a subgroup of the Barnstable County Coastal Resources Committee. The Cape Cod Stormwater Coalition will build on this work. The grant will fund work to inventory existing stormwater management resources, a needs assessment, collaborative strategies for towns and a Cape-tailored set of policies and standard operating procedures.

"As with wastewater, stormwater management will benefit from a coordinated regional approach," Cape Cod Commission Executive Director Paul Niedzwiecki said. “And the two are related. Improved stormwater management can help towns meet nitrogen reduction goals.”

The grant was part of more than $193,000 awarded by the Baker-Polito Administration for five projects to assess watershed pollution and plan for work to address water quality impairments. The other projects selected by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) are located in Provincetown, Belchertown, Kingston and Waltham.

"Our administration understands the important role that environmental protection and natural resource preservation plays not only today, but for generations to come," said Governor Charlie Baker. "The work supported by these grants will measure water quality and help fund necessary plans to improve and protect vital local watershed resources."

The grants are funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through Section 604b of the federal Clean Water Act. Since 2007, MassDEP has funded 62 projects under the 604b water quality management program, totaling more than $2.8 million to address non-point source pollution problems.

The Cape projects in brief:

  • Cape Cod Stormwater Coalition - $50,000
    The Cape Cod Commission

    The Commission will use grant funds to establish a regional stormwater management coalition to assist Cape Cod communities in meeting stormwater management requirements. This effort will emphasize partnership-building and information sharing among Cape Cod communities.
  • Provincetown Harbor Stormwater Mitigation - $40,000
    Town of Provincetown

    The town will utilize grant funds to prepare preliminary designs to continue installation of permeable pavement on Commercial Street as part of Provincetown Harbor Stormwater Mitigation Project.

"I am encouraged to see that both the Provincetown Harbor Stormwater Mitigation Project and the Cape Cod Stormwater Coalition have been awarded grant funding to further assist their water quality management efforts," said State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro).

Item Last Updated June 27, 2017


Other News

» PRESS RELEASES: Visit the Press Room to read recent press releases and commentaries.


» NEWSLETTER: Subscribe to the Cape Cod Commission REPORTER, a periodic newsletter, to learn more about the Commission's current work and the status of development proposals undergoing review.
The REPORTER - Newsletter of the Cape Cod Commission


award ribbon» AWARDS: View the list of Awards Received by the Cape Cod Commission (as of January 2013).



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