Follow a flow of money in 2022
The pandemic may be occupying less of our news pages than in 2020 or 2021, but the truth is that Outer Cape Cod is still reeling from this global shock.
The “supply chain issues” we’ve all grown accustomed to, and which surface in this week’s story about the storm delaying new Paul Fanizzi windows, are a direct result of the shutdowns in China. The housing crisis is now being exacerbated by rising construction costs and growing demand for a new class of workers – professionals who can now do their jobs remotely from Cape Cod while earning wages in Boston or New York.
But in response to the pandemic, the federal government has released a huge amount of money that is gradually finding its way to the end of this peninsula. The numbers are mind-boggling and the process is mind-boggling, but the effect on the Outer Cape is real. Within a week at the end of 2020, for example, the state increased funding for a small business Covid relief grant program from $68 million to $668 million — a move that ultimately netted $4.4 million. dollars to 86 small businesses in the Outer Cape.
The CARES Act of March 2020 and the U.S. Bailout Act of March 2021 together account for nearly $4 trillion in new one-time federal spending. The Cloverleaf affordable housing project in Truro was funded through an unusual mid-year stipend made possible by ARPA. Of the $16.3 million the state provided for the 39-unit project this month, $4.1 million came from ARPA. These apartments will be under construction this summer.
Following the money has also meant overseeing some locally controlled funding decisions.
The room tax, levied on hotel stays and short-term rentals like Airbnb, has been the big enchilada. The four Outer Cape towns together brought in $9 million last year, about three times what they received in 2018, when only hotel stays were taxed. Six million a year in new money means these cities have real options ahead of them.
The marijuana tax, however, was effectively cut in half by state legislation this summer, from 6% of gross sales to 3%. A crisis counselor program in Provincetown, intended to address an acute shortage of mental health practitioners here, is effectively on hold while the city seeks new funding options.
Provincetown also just rewrote its rental registration program and will now collect more than $750,000 a year in new fees from owners of short-term rentals.
These are significant numbers for small towns. Jay Coburn, CEO of the Community Development Partnership, suggested that every town in the Outer Cape could afford a properly staffed housing department with the money now coming in. Vail, Colorado’s Housing Director recently made a well-received presentation. in Provincetown; there are three people working in the Vail housing department, not just one.
It’s hard to say that the numbers watch has been an exciting pace. But at least there was more than one type of flood to write about.