Cape Cod Village – Seven Towns Collaborating for a Regional Need

Nearly every community in Massachusetts is facing a shortage of housing, and this problem is especially true when it comes to housing for residents with special needs. Recognizing the effectiveness of a collaborative CPA effort, seven outer Cape Cod towns joined together to work on a regional CPA housing developement to help an underserved population. This was the beginning of Cape Cod Village (CCV), a housing community for adults with autism.

Site Plan of Cape Cod VillageCape Cod Village started with Bob and Lauren Jones who were living in the outer Cape community of Orleans and were concerned about the future for their young son who had been diagnosed with autism. They knew that when he turned 22 years old he would “age out” of services provided by their school districts.  Recognizing a need for safe and supportive residential housing, they began to meet with other parents who shared their concerns. In 2012, the idea of an integrated, supportive housing community for adults on the autism spectrum was born and received its nonprofit status as Cape Cod Village (CCV).

Bob Jones began raising money privately and coordinating with another Orleans resident, Alan McClennen, Jr., a retired director of community planning and development from the town of Arlington. Together, they set to work finding a suitable location for the project. An opportunity came along to purchase land not far from the town center of Orleans on the site of a former lumber yard, and the two approached the Town’s Community Preservation Committee with a request for funding.

The Town of Orleans quickly approved $350,000 for the land purchase, and CCV privately raised the additional $400,000 towards the $750,000 asking price for the land. Inspired by this success, Bob visited a neighboring community about working together on the project and the idea was well received. A neighboring town employee suggested to Bob that he approach other outer cape communities as well, and he found remarkable support from a total of seven different outer cape communities: Brewster, Chatham, Eastham, Orleans, Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet.

Pictured left to right: Judith Ursitti, Director of State Government Affairs, Autism Speaks; Lauren Jones, Founder and Board Member, Cape Cod Village; John Block, Producer and Director of Sounding the Alarm; Russ Kenn, Executive Director – Boston at Autism Speaks; Liz Feld, President, Autism Speaks; Bob Jones, Founder and President, Cape Cod Village; and Morton Dean, Cape Cod Village Advisory Board“It was almost all unanimous votes at town meeting,” Bob describes. “People recognized a regional need and that it wouldn’t be possible to have a Cape Cod Village in every town. Not only did people want to support this type of housing, they recognized a responsibility to support it.”

Cape Cod Village has been designed to meet the unique needs of its residents, including considerations for sensory issues common with people on the autism spectrum. Four “green” homes will be built with energy efficiency in mind, as well as a community building that includes a kitchen, a resource center, office space, and a recreational area. There will also be several common areas and shared spaces such as an open courtyard, walking paths, and a vegetable garden.  The project is located on a 4-acre parcel within walking distance of the town center and abutting the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

Planned Location of the Cape Cod Village DrivewayCPA played a critical role in helping this project come to fruition. CCV received a total of $950,000 in CPA funds from the seven different towns, and these CPA funds allowed the project access to a $3 million in a low-interest loan from the Department of Agriculture, as well as a $2 million grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DCHD).

“This project touched a chord with all the communities involved,” remarks Gisele Gauthier, a supporter who was involved as project’s the housing coordinator. “It was truly remarkable that this project went through 7 different town meetings which approved the funding with very few objections. This is not usual for an affordable housing project.”

With construction scheduled to begin in spring of 2018, Cape Cod Village is shaping up to be a terrific regional housing project which is likely going to be a model that other communities in Massachusetts can follow.

Image Render of the Planned Group Housing in Cape Cod Village