CAPE COD, Mass. — Around this time of year, Homeless Prevention Council in Cape Cod is busy matching donor families and businesses with the more than 200 local families in need. Donors buy gifts and clothes to help make this time of year more cheerful for folks going through so much.
"We've got such a community-focused, giving, and thoughtful community that really is aware of the unique needs of the seasonal nature of our economy," said Hadley Luddy, chief executive officer of Homeless Prevention Council.
It certainly is a bright spot during an incredibly challenging year. Like many areas with “seasonal economies” – think beach or mountain towns – her area is going through an affordable housing crisis.
With people now working remotely, families who can afford to do so, have moved away from urban areas to these seasonal economies for the space and pace of life. That, unfortunately, is making housing for people who work at local restaurants, landscaping companies and other small businesses difficult to find.
"This is not just a Cape Cod problem. It is a national problem. Um, so we're hearing stories all the time and actually seeing lots of amazing pilot projects and programs that are popping up all over the country," said Luddy.
While this problem continues to persist, Luddy says that one positive that has developed over the last few months is that residents are becoming more aware of the issue and beginning to understand that this is something that needs everyone’s help to solve it.
"The Cape Cod Times ran a story that really outlined the degree to the severity and how the housing crisis is really affecting people of all incomes, and one of the nice results of the story was we had two people call with rental housing available," said Luddy. "To see people reading the newspaper, making the connection, it goes back to our efforts all the time to say we're all part of creating a housing solution."
She says a lot of the focus now should be on educating people about the problem, but most importantly, on how they can be a part of the solution by using their own resources to create affordable housing.
"We really need to make this whole process much more user-friendly for the person who wants to be a part of the solution, so I think that's much of the first step that needs to happen and then we'll start to see more and more people as they're better informed, bring rentals online," she said.