More than 300 state and local officials, business leaders and community advocates gathered Thursday for the second annual Housing to Protect Cape Cod (HPCC) Summit. Attendees heard about progress made since the HPCC coalition was launched in 2022 and received tools and resources to continue to advocate for housing in their communities.
Resources included a policy toolkit with specific policy recommendations to promote housing. The toolkit provides a high-level overview of the recommendations and local examples to illustrate the benefits of the suggested changes.
The toolkit can be downloaded at: housingtoprotectcapecod.org/
Featured speakers included Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities Edward Augustus, state Sen. Julian Cyr, Housing Assistance CEO Alisa Magnotta, Cape Cod Commission Executive Director Kristi Senatori, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Niedzwiecki, town officials, and housing advocates from around the region.
“The Cape is the canary in the coal mine,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll who made a surprise appearance via Zoom. “ “You’re seeing firsthand the impacts of housing on the economy. We have to have more affordable housing in the region.”
Augustus spoke about the Healey-Driscoll administration’s Affordable Homes Act, a $4 billion plan to jumpstart the production of homes and make housing more affordable across Massachusetts. The housing bill includes a comprehensive package of spending, policy and programmatic actions, and represents the largest proposed investment in housing in the state’s history.
“If we’re in a housing crisis, and we are, we need to be thinking big and we need to be thinking bold,” said Augustus. “We can do better. It’s our moral responsibility to do better.”
Magnotta praised the Healey-Driscoll administration’s efforts to ease the state’s housing crisis. “I am incredibly impressed with the thoughtful and strategic approach by the Healey administration to develop the Affordable Homes Act,” she said. “These historic investments were decided after months of discussions with stakeholders around the state, understanding that each region is different, with a need for a variety of tools to address our housing crisis.”
The summit agenda included panel discussions and presentations, including:
“Navigating Short-Term Rentals & Local Strategies to Create Housing” – moderated by Alisa Magnotta with panelists Alex Morse, Provincetown Town Manager; Leslie Sandberg, Provincetown Select Board; Tucker Holland, Nantucket Housing Director; David Iverson, Nantucket Planning Board & Short-Term Rental Work Group Member; and Brooke Mohr, Nantucket Select Board
“Unlocking the Potential of Form Based Code” – with panelists Matthew Levesque, President, Barnstable Town Council, and Elizabeth Jenkins, Barnstable Director of Planning & Development
“Messaging to Respond to NIMBYism” – Ryan Castle, CEO, Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS®
Portions of the discussion centered around opposition to proposed housing developments and misinformation about who benefits when housing is created.
“When you’re making hard policy change, the best indication of success is pushback,” said Cyr. “This is a noble effort.”
The first summit, in November 2022, focused on defining the causes and extent of the housing crisis on the Cape and Islands. This year’s summit was more about solutions, Magnotta said.
“This is our opportunity to stop talking about the problem and to take action that allows our families, our businesses, and our communities across the Cape and Islands region and across Massachusetts to thrive,” she said.