Let’s End This Housing Horror Show – Editorial | Sandwich Opinion – CapeNews.net

The Sandwich Zoning Board this week began its review of the comprehensive permit request for all the new senior housing planned for the former Wing School site.

The $53 million, three-phase project is slated to bring 128 affordably priced housing units to town for people 62 years and older.

The affordability factor is what makes this such an outstanding endeavor and we hope the zoning board will make quick work of its review so construction can get underway.

But while the future housing landscape is looking rosy for seniors in Sandwich, the same can’t be said for young people looking to find long-term rental property here.

More and more property owners who have previously rented to year-round residents have decided that the time is right to cash in on rising property values.

This trend was exacerbated by the pandemic, which sent our real estate market up into the stratosphere, where it remains.

Just ask anyone who is in the hunt for an apartment to rent. They’re sure to have horror stories.

Businesses that depend on young workers are suffering because of it, too.

We’ve seen it firsthand here at the Enterprise. In the past several months, we’ve hired a few young reporters who have no choice but to commute long distances because they can’t find housing anywhere in the area.

Some of these recent college grads have opted to move back in with their parents who live locally until the housing market stabilizes. In another instance, a longtime reporter who lost her housing ended up moving in with a friend two states away. She’s not sure how much longer she can do her job from such a distance now that the Cape has opened back up and the boards and committees she covers have given up Zoom to meet again in person.

In May, Sandwich Town Meeting took a solid step in the right direction to help ease some of this housing crunch by voting to ease the regulations governing accessory dwelling units, which would allow owners of single-family dwellings to add these dwelling units “by right.” The change—aimed at creating more affordable housing—would allow owners to add apartments to their homes without having to apply for special permits.

But much more needs to be done. We need to find new and creative ways to expand the town’s non-age-restricted, long-term, affordable rental stock; everything from single-family homes and townhomes to duplexes and apartments.

Back in the summer of 2019, the Cape Cod Commission came to town and, with town planners, held a workshop at Sandwich Town Hall to discuss ways to shape the future of housing along the Route 130 corridor in South Sandwich.

The pandemic seems to have derailed that train. It’s time to get it chugging once again.