MIDDLE INCOME HOUSING
Housing our middle income residents is a tricky subject, and an issue frequently discussed in town meetings and amongst our year-round residents. Over 40% of the people who own houses on Cape own another residence elsewhere. There are only 12 counties in the whole country where the average one-bedroom apartment is considered affordable for minimum-wage workers, and this issue is paramount here on Cape Cod. Second homeowners are pricing even teachers and fishermen, some of the bedrocks of this community, out of their own towns.
We need to find creative, smart policies to solve this problem. We need to work together across town lines and with our lawmakers on Beacon Hill to make some serious noise in Washington. There is only so much our local and state tax dollars can do to remedy this potential catastrophe. We could deregulate some local zoning bylaws and roll back historic preservation rules to inspire construction, but a small boom would only stabilize the market temporarily. A new public housing boom, even if administered at the state or local level, must be financed at the federal level. The federal government can spend the money to meet higher quality levels, to assist in purchasing empty lots or condemned properties, and even buy out existing structures in more affluent areas. Realistically, the only organization able to compete with wealthy landowners is our own federal government.