Thursday, June 07, 2012

Got Housing?

Most of you do. You were cozy and warm during this week’s two-day rain event. Maybe some of you even have rosa rogosa growing in the front yard. Not everyone in Wellfleet is so lucky. There are those who are getting ready to move out of their houses so that tenants can move in over the summer. Some people shack up with friends, or sleep on a relative’s couch. Others leave the Cape for a month or two. Summer rentals help pay the mortgage. Our town has this downside. It has gotten too expensive for its own good. There’s very little affordable housing available. A couple weeks ago I wrote about what we take for granted. Owning a house surely qualifies. Everyone should have a place to call home. Young Wellfleetians, starting out in life, find it practically impossible to raise the money necessary for a mortgage. Starter homes no longer exist here. This is a sorry state of affairs indeed.

The state of Massachusetts has set a goal for affordable housing: 10% of all available housing stock. Wellfleet is far from reaching that goal at 3%, with little wiggle-room for improvement, despite the best intentions of the town’s housing authority, which is working overtime to create affordable condos and rentals. In 2011, the Wellfleet Local Housing Partnership and the Wellfleet Housing Authority teamed up to start a Buy Down Program for first-time home buyers. The Buy-Down Program will make a grant of up to $125,000 to a selected, qualified moderate-income applicant to help reduce the purchase price, bridging the gap between what is available in the open market and what is affordable to a moderate-income Cape household. The goal of this program is to increase the availability of affordable home ownership opportunities. The program uses funds provided through the local Community Preservation Act and approved by the voters of Wellfleet. Ground was broken recently on the Gull Pond condos, five future homes for Wellfleetians. If you are interested in submitting an application, first sign up for the first-time homebuyers course, proposed by the CDP.

The Wellfleet Housing Authority is very active and deserves praise for finding solutions for those of limited means in a tough market. The hope is to reach 6% by 2013.

Two years ago the Economic Development Committee discussed how to encourage senior Wellfleetians to share housing with a scheme like the one developed on Martha's Vineyard. Then the ball was dropped and we started organizing festivals. I would like to see more thought given to housing solutions for young people in town. They should be able to stay here if they so desire. What's your opinion?