The Outer Cape is slated to see $1.5 million in funds to support housing and addiction relief if a House spending bill passed Oct. 29 passes the Senate and is signed by Gov. Charlie Baker.
The $3.82 billion spending bill uses funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and fiscal year 2021 surplus funds. The bill uses one-time investments in housing, economic development, workforce development and health and human services to alleviate disparities caused by COVID-19.
State Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown, said $1.5 million is earmarked for three Cape organizations. The Homeless Prevention Council and Community Development Partnership will receive $1 million to support housing initiatives. Outer Cape Health Services will get $500,000 to support an addiction program.
The $1 million will be used by the two organizations to finance the construction of accessory dwelling units, support the winterization of seasonal cottages and establish a housing resource center for the Lower and Outer Cape.
One aspect of the plan would be to provide forgivable loans or grants to private homeowners for the creation of ADU’s. Jay Coburn, CEO and president of the Community Development Partnership in Eastham, said that a number of affordable housing initiatives exist on the Lower and Outer Cape, but are three to five years from completion.
“These funds would address immediate needs,” Coburn said.
The money would support homeowners with licensing, permitting, construction and rentals of ADUs, he said. The money might be used by someone who has a garage or basement to convert, or land to build a little cottage, Coburn said.
Coburn said his organization and the Homeless Prevention Council are still working out the details. He said he expects to make an announcement by the end of the year.
“We don't want to use public funds to create seasonal B&B units,” he said.
Most towns on the Cape that have ADU bylaws require year-round leases so the units can’t be rented seasonally. This would help create market-rate housing, especially for those who don’t qualify for affordable housing, Coburn said.
The organizations are still working out the details, he said.
Peake said she has great faith in the Homeless Prevention Council and Community Development Partnership.
“They are stand-up organizations that have done more to help around housing, economic development than others,” she said.
Interested homeowners would have to apply for the funds and document what they would spend the funds on and how tax dollars have been spent. “They’ll not just be writing blank checks,” Peake said. “There are checks and balances, and a process in place.”
The funding for the Outer Cape Health Services is earmarked for the Structured Outpatient Addiction Program. Specifically, it will allow the organization to create offices and a group meeting space in Wellfleet.
The SOAP program has been operating virtually on Zoom video teleconferencing because of the pandemic. The construction of dedicated space will allow for in person meetings and provide recovery services for individuals.
Peake called housing and substance use and mental health issues the most important on the Cape.
Peake said she doesn’t expect the funding to be made available for 90 to 120 days. The Senate takes the bill up next week. Then the bill goes to conference committee before heading to Baker. Peake believes the legislature will be able to override any veto by Baker.
Local municipalities have already received American Rescue Plan Act funds. Barnstable County will be announcing what investments they’ll be making with $41 million it received.
Barnstable, Eastham, Mashpee, Provincetown and Yarmouth have claimed all of the COVID-19 related federal funds allocated to them.
“There will be millions of additional funds flowing to the Cape and Islands,” Peake said.
Contact Denise Coffey at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @DeniseCoffeyCCT.