Healthy aging & accessory apartments: Meet Susan
My name is Susan Kurtzman. I have lived in Truro, one of the outermost small towns on Cape Cod, since 1998. In Truro, and throughout the Commonwealth, we have a crisis of affordability in housing. Many people in my town cannot afford to stay in the neighborhoods where they grew up, built their businesses or spent their lives.
My business, Jobi Pottery, has been in Truro for 65 years. I am the third owner of this family business which I bought fifteen years ago from the original owner. It is a Truro institution with a strong tradition and has employed local people since the 1950s.
In the 15 years I’ve owned my business, the lack of housing that my employees can afford has made it a real hardship to find and keep local workers in the area.
Six years ago, my son and his fiancee moved from California to Cape Cod so that he could work with me at Jobi Pottery. His fiancee intended to look for work in hospitality. They began looking for housing on the Outer Cape hoping to find a rental apartment in Truro. It quickly became clear that there was no year-round housing available anywhere nearby that this young couple could afford. They ended up in West Yarmouth near Hyannis….half way back up the Cape towards Boston, 46 miles from Truro. In the summer, when tourists clog Route 6, it’s three hours round trip from West Yarmouth to Truro. It’s been a brutal commute for my son on a daily basis.
In July, I will be 70 years old. I would like to stay in my community where I have friends, connections, a business, a life. I want to age in place. I have already seen several close friends of mine who wanted to “downsize” or who needed living assistance leave Truro and the Cape in the last few years because of lack of housing options in our area, including the inability to create accessory apartments (Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs) in single family homes.
As I get older, I may need my son and daughter-in-law to live close by to help me, or I may need assistance of some other type. Being able to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit enables residents to house a live-in caregiver, family, or a local worker.
In Truro we recently waged a successful local campaign for ADUs and it passed our Town Meeting. I now have the option to build a small apartment over my garage, something that gives me enormous peace of mind.
We need to expand this capability across the Cape and the Commonwealth now so that young people can afford to stay in the communities where they grew up and where older people such as myself can age in place where they have family, businesses, friends, and connections.
Thank you for hearing and sharing my story.