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Mashpee's Great Cove fits needs of community

Posted on March 8, 2019

MASHPEE --- There’s no shortage of statistics to show Cape Cod’s need for affordable, year-round housing. Here are some keepers:

  • A 2017 Cape Cod Commission study found that the Cape had an affordable housing gap of over 26,000 units, meaning thousands of low- and middle-income workers are paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing.
  • The same study found that over 3,000 units were converted from year-round to seasonal from 2010 to 2015.
  • According to the last census, Barnstable County lost about 15,000 residents ages 25 to 44, nearly a 27 percent decline.

Falmouth native Jessica Grady confirmed that numbers don’t lie. “People my age are leaving. We can’t afford it,” she said. Jessica almost left herself, until she found a home at Great Cove Community in Mashpee.

Developed by the Housing Assistance Corporation of Cape Cod, Great Cove features 10 affordable apartments in five duplexes. Managed by the Mashpee Housing Authority, it was built on housing authority land behind Breezy Acres public housing. Great Cove’s proximity to Mashpee High School allowed it to tie into the school’s water treatment system, lowering development costs. The town also provided over $500,000 in Community Preservation Act funds.

Support for Great Cove came from MHP’s Neighborhood Rental Initiative (NRI). This program provided the housing authority and developer with early technical assistance, $820,000 in permanent financing and a low-interest $750,000 second-mortgage loan. MHP’s NRI Program provided similar support and financing for developments of five to 16 apartments in Acton, Barnstable, Chelmsford, Hopkinton, Sudbury and Truro. NRI was a model for the Baker Administration’s Community Scale Housing Initiative.

“We created this program to show how communities, housing authorities and nonprofits can work together to use public land and turn them into homes for families,” said Susan Connelly, director of MHP’s community assistance team.

Jessica Grady is a good example of what happens when you build housing like this.  A working single mother, she spent her early years raising her children Colin and Ella at her parents’ house in Falmouth. She was grateful for their undying support but yearned to live on her own.

She looked for a place in Falmouth but everything was either too expensive or a dump in a sketchy neighborhood. She began to think about moving off Cape. Then, she heard about Great Cove. She entered the lottery and was picked first. On her 28th birthday.

Four years later, she says it’s one of the best birthdays she’s ever had. Her three-bedroom apartment is near her job at Southgate Village Hair and Spa. The apartment has a washer-dryer and a full basement. 

Outside, there’s a big yard where her children Colin and Ella can play. She likes the school system, their school is just a half-mile away and her children are happy. “Living on our own is awesome. There is more freedom,” she said. “It makes you feel good inside.”