As Cape Cod’s regional economic development agency and one of sixteen Regional Tourism Councils statewide, the Cape Cod Chamber plays a key role in policy and advocacy on regional, state, and local issues that affect our region’s economic vibrancy. This work includes advocating for competitive tax policies at the state level, supporting replacement of the aging Bourne and Sagamore Bridges, and collaborating with state and local leaders on policies that promote jobs, economic opportunity, water quality, and more.
One of the biggest policy focus areas for the Cape Cod Chamber is housing that meets the needs of our regional workforce and business community. As we have seen on Cape Cod, housing is inextricably linked to labor supply and economic development – from the ability of employers to hire and retain quality workers, to the attraction of new business and investment opportunities to the region.
Over the past year, the Cape Cod Chamber has worked to refine our approach to housing policy through collaboration with regional and state partners, analyzing data related to housing needs and market trends, and reviewing best practices from around the country. During 2023, the Chamber continued its participation in the regional Housing to Protect Cape Cod coalition with partners from Housing Assistance, the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors, and other organizations. Our team served on the steering committee for the Cape Cod Commission’s soon-to-be-released Regional Housing Strategy. We also shifted to a more proactive approach to state-level housing advocacy, working with the Cape’s legislative delegation and the Healey-Driscoll Administration to promote housing solutions that meet the unique needs of seasonal regions like Cape Cod.
As a result of this work, the Chamber has identified a set of policy and program priorities that uniquely position us to respond to the housing needs of the local workforce and business community. We started with a mission-focused end goal in mind: support a vibrant, year-round regional economy and a healthy quality of life for workers and residents. Housing solutions include:
- Grow labor supply through seasonal workforce housing for J-1 and H-2B visa workers
- Attract and facilitate business development opportunities for housing entrepreneurs and innovators to meet local housing needs
- Support a healthy housing ecosystem through training for small-scale, local developers
- Encourage redevelopment of underused and underperforming properties for housing
- Reinforce community character through gentle density development
- Preserve housing for year-round residents through residential occupancy deed restrictions
The Chamber’s housing plan is targeted to address housing needs while also tackling chronic regional issues like labor supply, reinvestment in underperforming properties, and support for the next generation of developer entrepreneurs. Our focus is on:
- Housing production for households earning between $80,000 and $210,000 per year – the “missing middle” category of housing need that existing subsidies and housing programs don’t touch
- Easier to implement approaches that don’t rely on new-build housing construction or traditional funding subsidies
- Encouraging a combination of innovative policy with creative reuse of existing community resources and building stock
In upcoming CEO Corners, we will highlight each of the Chamber’s six housing policy solutions in more detail and explain how they help create a stronger year-round economy - increasing the tax base, preserving affordability for the middle class, and driving much-needed labor supply for the business community.