ORLEANS — A Community Housing Forum on April 11 will take a close look at the spectrum of current and future housing options Orleans needs for its residents, based on an in-depth survey of demographic and related trends.
The forum, to be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the council on aging on Rock Harbor Road, will include a presentation of the draft community housing study and breakout sessions aimed at generating recommendations for action.
The study, prepared by the affordable housing committee with the assistance of Planning and Community Development Director George Meservey and consultant Karen Sunnarborg, asks “whether Orleans will be able to sustain a reasonable diversity of ages, occupations, and incomes in light of escalating land and home values.” The draft document is intended as a guide “in promoting affordable housing over the short and longer term, directing such development to appropriate target populations and locations...”
It's not just younger people who are struggling to live in Orleans. “Long-term residents, especially the elderly, are finding themselves less able to maintain their homes and keep up with other costs but unable to find alternative housing that better meets their current life styles and pocket books,” the study notes. A related finding of note is that 20 percent of the town's households “involved individuals 65 years of age or older who lived alone based on 2015 census estimates, considerably higher than 17.4 percent and 11.3 percent, for the county and state, respectively...”
And while Orleans is rare among Cape towns in coming ever so close to meeting the state goal of 10 percent of its housing stock being qualified as affordable, the report states that “clearly more housing options are required well beyond the 10 percent level to meet local needs.”
The draft document proposes a series of goals to meet the challenges, specifically an increase in rental housing opportunities, including options “for some seniors who are 'overhoused' and spending far too much on their housing to relocate to more affordable and less isolated settings, opening up their homes for families requiring more space.”
The full study is available for review on the town website at www.town.orleans.ma.us/sites/orleansma/files/uploads/orleans_housing_study_draft_2-27-17.pdf