Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Mad Dash for Housing & Hope for One Family

Spring, on Cape Cod, brings out the real estate agent in me. What’s available for rent? How can I help friends, A. Find summer tenants or, B. Rent a place year-round or, C. Secure affordable housing for the summer? Problem is the landlords prefer to rent by the week, and none of the locals can afford the going rates, so putting the various parties together is not an option.

For instance, a friend stopped by just this morning. He needs a home year-round, after a divorce. Not a fancy place, with hydrangea blossoms cascading over a picket fence. A studio will do. A bed, a bathroom, a microwave.

“Just putting the word out,” R. said. “No wonder people move to North Carolina. You can get a beautiful house for $150,000.”

“You should look in the Banner,” I suggested.

“I was looking at the ads yesterday,” he said. “There was this place. They wanted $450,000. It looked familiar, so I opened the front door. Sure enough. There was a For Sale sign down the street. And, that house is nothing special. $450,000!”

The problem? The Outer Cape is pricey, and Wellfleet has become too trendy for its own good. Wellfleetians are willing to move out for extra income in the summer, let strangers live in their home. Not everyone rents, but practically. Or, they rent the cottage behind their house, and that cottage becomes no longer available as a year-round rental.

Affordable housing has almost ceased to exist, so I was extremely pleased to hear from the Wellfleet Local Housing Partnership that help is on the way for one person, at least:

“Up to $125,000 for a Moderate-Income Qualified First Time Wellfleet Home Buyer. The Wellfleet Local Housing Partnership and the Wellfleet Housing Authority are sponsoring a Buy Down Program for 1st Time Home Buyers in Wellfleet. The Buy-Down Program will make a grant of up to $125,000 to a selected, qualified moderate-income applicant to help them reduce the purchase price of a home, bridging the gap between what is available in the open market and what is affordable to a moderate-income Cape household. The goal of the Program is to increase the availability of affordable home ownership opportunities in Wellfleet using funds provided by the local Community Preservation Committee and approved by the voters of Wellfleet.”

If you are interested, attend one of the information sessions (April 6 at 7 pm, or April 30 at 10 am at the library), or contact Gary Sorkin, garywellfleet@yahoo.com.