Regional Housing Strategy nearing completion
The Cape Cod Commission is nearing the end of a yearlong process to create the Regional Housing Strategy, a plan that aims to identify policies, strategies, and appropriate areas for housing development and redevelopment to address our housing supply, affordability, and availability challenges while protecting our sensitive resources.
The Regional Housing Strategy examines ways to combat these challenges and create an environment that supports and sustains affordable, accessible year-round housing for those who live and work here, in a way that is context-sensitive and environmentally conscious.
The planning process began in late 2022 with a series of meetings with individual towns to discuss existing challenges, efforts, resources, and needs. Staff and consultants then gathered background information, conducted a needs assessment and a zoning analysis, and created data-driven housing profiles for each Cape Cod town and the county.
A series of subregional stakeholder meetings began in 2023, designed to gather broad input from a range of perspectives across the region. Stakeholders included housing organizations and advocates, town representatives, builders, developers, realtors, business owners and employers, chambers of commerce, nonprofit and civic organizations, and conservation and environmental organizations.
Through these meetings, staff and stakeholders reviewed baseline data, discussed housing challenges and ways to define success, reviewed and built consensus on high-impact strategies and defined pathways for implementation. Now, as the work to compile the strategy nears completion, staff is once again meeting with individual towns to solicit feedback on both regional recommendations and local opportunities.
Cape Cod’s housing challenges are exacerbated by the fact that in many places, multifamily housing is not allowed, too expensive, or too complicated to build. For residents, it’s too expensive to maintain or secure housing, and it’s difficult to find and keep year-round housing.
Preliminary results from a zoning analysis found that single-family development is allowed by-right in most places in most towns. Conversely, multifamily—in this case three- and four-units of housing (or more)—is allowed to be built by-right on only 2% of Cape Cod’s zoned land. And this is only what is allowed under zoning, not what may actually be viable areas for potential development or redevelopment.
Zoning changes are local decisions. The Commission is working to identify and develop resources for our municipalities to support local zoning changes in appropriate places to allow for greater housing choices and opportunities in our region. Zoning changes will play a pivotal role in addressing our housing challenges but are only one of several key recommendations which will comprise the focus of the Regional Housing Strategy.
The Commission expects to release a draft of the Regional Housing Strategy in December, with key regional recommendations related to policy and permitting; land acquisition and development; funding and financing; and communication, education, and support.