A pandemic with no vaccine: Affordable housing

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Affordable apartments in Sydney, Australia.

Max Weinberg, Contributing Writer

After the initial surge of the Covid-19 Pandemic, many realized working from home was a new and more preferable option. Along with this, the idea of moving to dream destinations also became popular. Many packed up their homes in cities and suburbs and flocked to their vacation homes on coasts or mountains. This led to a massive surge in the real estate market, as not only were homes selling for more than ever, but there were more buyers than ever before. As of June 2021, inflation in the real estate industry remains around 2.1% and shows no signs of slowing down. 

With prices surging higher, many potential buyers are left hanging, as nothing is available in their price range nor fits their needs. This leaves towns and cities in a scramble, as this demand cannot meet supply. The sudden need for affordable housing has become a battle between current residents and potential buyers, with local governments and builders stuck in the middle. 

In Cape Cod, Massachusetts, local fishers are being evicted from their rental homes so the town can take control over the property, aiming to build affordable housing.

I spoke with Alisa Magnotta, CEO of the Housing Assistance Corporation, a non-profit founded in 1974 specializing in homelessness prevention, housing stability and empowerment. 

“Housing that is affordable and attainable is the bedrock of every community,” Magnotta says. “The Cape is primarily made up of single-family homes. This monoculture of housing negatively impacts our housing market and our environment. Without options of smaller homes closer together, we create sprawl and encourage high-priced real estate.”

However, Cape Cod towns are addressing this issue as the town of Brewster recently broke ground on 30 new units specifically designed for affordable housing. “Brewster has always been the working people’s village of the Cape – reasonably priced real estate, good schools, and a strong community,” Magnotta explains. “Now is the time to double down on that investment to ensure we don’t only preserve the land but also the community. It starts with housing.”