How Cape Cod's housing shortage could affect your summer vacation

Tourists walk along Commercial Street in Provincetown. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Tourists walk along Commercial Street in Provincetown. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

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Let’s hop into the news like the Franklin Park Zoo’s new animals.

Summer is officially underway and the long Fourth of July weekend is just around the corner. But business leaders on Cape Cod are warning the region’s housing shortage is not only affecting seasonal workers; it could also have tangible impacts on visitors’ summer vacations as local businesses adjust.

  • What to expect: “You’ll see restaurants that aren’t open as many days or only serve dinner instead of lunch and dinner, and businesses that have to close one day a week just to give their employees a break,” Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Niedzwiecki told WBUR’s John Bender.
  • Why? The Cape has traditionally relied on around 5,000 foreign workers on J1 visas, but Niedzwiecki expects closer to 2,000 this year. That’s because sponsoring agencies require housing for visa holders. “It all comes back to housing,” Niedzwiecki said.
  • Go deeper: Local officials say the Cape’s housing shortage was exacerbated by the pandemic. It became more attractive for owners to occupy their rental properties year-round or convert them into Airbnbs. That displaced a lot of workers who used those homes as long-term rentals, according to Niedzwiecki.
  • Zoom out: As WBUR’s Zeninjor Enwemeka reported last month, the Berkshires are also facing similar challenges this season.
  • What’s the solution? There’s not much room to build on the Cape, so Niedzwiecki argues for more density in areas where infrastructure can accommodate it. Currently, 86% of the Cape’s housing is single-family homes, compared to 56% statewide.
  • Take it from the quahog: At least the weather will be nice. Doug the Quahog, the Cape’s unofficial mascot, predicted Wednesday we will have 83 good beach days this summer.

Gov. Maura Healey’s administration is moving to update the state’s curriculum for health and physical education courses in schools. WBUR’s Steve Brown reports it would be the first update to the state’s existing Comprehensive Health Curriculum framework since 1999.

  • What’s in it: The proposed framework is modeled after a bill the Massachusetts Senate has repeatedly passed to remodel sex education to ensure material is medically accurate, LGBTQ+ inclusive and age appropriate.
  • What’s next: The state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to vote next Tuesday to open the draft framework for public comment for 60 days. After any revisions, the plan will likely get a final implementation vote later this summer or fall.

The Celtics are shaking things up a bit. Boston is reportedly acquiring 7-foot-3, former All-Star center center Kristaps Porzingis in exchange for longtime guard Marcus Smart and forward Danilo Gallinari as part of a three-team trade. After struggling with injuries for several seasons, the lanky Porzingis is coming off a solid season with the Washington Wizards, averaging a career-high 23.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game — and, perhaps most importantly, he’s stayed healthy.

Simmons University is considering major cuts to its liberal arts programs, due to financial issues from declining enrollment. While no final decisions have been made, The Boston Globe reports the women’s college’s leaders will vote on a plan this fall.

  • What’s on the chopping block: University officials are looking to close a number of undergrad departments — including modern languages, philosophy, literature, art and music, and sociology — once students finish their majors, according to the Globe.

Happy Fourth of… September? The town of Amesbury is delaying its Fourth of July fireworks until Labor Day weekend, after endangered bobolink birds were found nesting in the fields where crowds gather to come watch the fireworks.

P.S.— Do you have student loans or know someone who does? WBUR’s education team is looking to speak to local residents about their thoughts on the Supreme Court’s soon-to-be-announced decision on President Joe Biden’s loan forgiveness plan. If you’d be comfortable sharing your thoughts, simply reply to this email to get in touch or email education reporter Carry Jung directly at


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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