New complex in Eastham highlights affordable housing problem on Cape Cod

EASTHAM, Mass. — Plenty of houses, but nowhere to live. Year-round residents on Cape Cod say prices of homes and rentals are so high that they can't afford to live there. In Eastham, a new housing complex may be a quick fix to a much bigger problem.

It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but many seem to agree it’s not the answer. Construction is underway for a new affordable housing development. And while about 65 people will get to live there soon, hundreds didn't make the cut.

Growing from the ground up is a window of opportunity for residents on the outer Cape. The Village at Nauset Green, is a $23 million project in Eastham, one that will provide an affordable place to live for 65 lucky renters, selected last week.

"It was definitely mixed emotions, very tense," said Nathan Garran, one of those people chosen in the lottery system out of the nearly 300 who qualified.

Garran and his dad, both year-rounders, watched as others had their hopes crushed – including a young, single father.

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"I could just watch his body language as he kept sinking in his chair and one of his sons was just holding onto him," said Steve Garran. "And it was just sad."

Nathan, who just got his masters and is working three jobs, says he still can't afford to rent or buy a home.

"I did look at a couple of houses and got out-bid by a severe amount of money," he recalled. "About $125,000 over asking price."

Statistics show the vacancy rate for full-time rentals in Eastham is at about a whopping 0%. There are essentially none available.

But, a lack of affordable homes is a Cape wide-issue, often with seasonal buyers jacking up prices.

"I think the community really realizes that we're at a tipping crisis-point, and we want to be a community for all of our citizens," said Carolyn McPherson, the Chair of the Eastham Affordable Housing Trust.

McPherson says more needs to be done and soon to make sure full-time residents have a place to live.

"If we don't take some action now, we might get so far behind that we can’t catch up," she said.