Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Grant Helps House Homeless on Martha's Vineyard

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 @ 04:47 PM
Karen Tewhey Edited (January 2017).jpgKaren Tewhey, HAC's HCEC housing counselor on Martha's Vineyard. 

What can $81,658 buy on Martha’s Vineyard? Housing for seven of the island’s homeless.

That is exactly how HAC will use that money, which was awarded to the agency last month, courtesy of a Continuum of Care grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “It’s the first time in many years Martha’s Vineyard has gotten funding from the [Continuum of Care] so we’re incredibly excited,” said Karen Tewhey, HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center housing counselor on the island.

Tewhey, who wrote the grant, said roughly half of it will go to rent a year-round permanent home for seven homeless men who have strong roots on the island. The remainder will be used to cover the cost of a program manager who will also reside in the house.

“We are looking at potential sites right now,” Tewhey said, with the goal of opening the home at some point this year.

As part of the program, Tewhey said, HAC is currently seeking additional funding for a case manager who will work with each individual, connecting them to medical, mental health, education and employment services needed for them to become self-sufficient.

The HUD grant serves as a long-term compliment to a short-term one that the United Way of Cape Cod is funding to help address homelessness on the Vineyard. That grant is paying for homeless individuals and families to stay in four island hotels over the winter months.

Tewhey, who celebrates her one-year anniversary at HAC this month, said that there have been 80 individuals on the Vineyard who have been identified since last January that are homeless. “The majority of those individuals end up couch surfing,” she said. “We do have probably up to two dozen individuals who have been unsheltered, living outside or in their cars or in sheds.”

These people serve as a reminder of the disparity of wealth that exists on Martha’s Vineyard. “This is primarily a service economy and this is an extraordinarily expensive place to purchase real estate,” she said. “So many people are dependent on rentals and there is a rental housing crisis on the island. We probably need about 1,000 units of rental housing here.”

Tags: homelessness, Martha's Vineyard, Continuum of Care, HUD, Department of Housing and Urban Development, United Way of Cape Cod, Karen Tewhey

Local Realtors Give Back to HAC

Posted by HAC Staff on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 04:28 PM

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At the beginning of December, Angela Philbrook (left) and Kimberly Koplow of Cape Cod Title & Escrow delivered several bags of home goods to HAC. The items were collected last month by Philbrook at her 3rd Annual Friendsgiving party in which local realtors, mortgage lenders and friends were encouraged to bring donations to support HAC’s shelter clients.

Among the items collected were bath towels, cutting boards, kitchen cutlery and pans, all donations that will be given to HAC clients as part of its Welcome Home Gift Basket program. The program provides basic household items to shelter clients when they make the transition from shelter into permanent housing.

Those interested in donating to the Welcome Home Gift Basket program can contact Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org or at 508-771-5400, ext. 279. HAC is currently in need of new twin and queen bed sheets, bath towels and dishware.

You can learn more about the Welcome Home Gift Basket program by clicking this link

Tags: Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive, Philanthropy, donations, charitable giving

Tax Credits Ideal for Year-End Giving

Posted by HAC Staff on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 04:01 PM

tax credits homepage.jpg

As you prepare your year-end-giving, HAC has a tax credit program that can help you stretch your donation further.

The program is open to new donors and those who double their donation from the previous year. Only donations over the $1,000 threshold are eligible for the tax credits.

In return for your donation, you will receive half of it back in the form of a tax credit. This is on top of the federal tax deduction you are allowed to deduct from your taxes. So for a $1,000 donation, you will receive $500 back in tax credits. For a $5,000 donation, you will receive $2,500 back in tax credits. And for a $10,000 donation, you will receive $5,000 back in tax credits.

Those with little to no tax liability could even receive the balance of their credit back in the form of a check from the state.

Since 2014, HAC has been involved in the tax credit program which encourages charitable giving to organizations that are making a significant and positive impact in their communities.

To secure your tax credits before the end of the year, contact HAC’s Margaret Benaka at either mbenaka@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 272 by noon on Friday, December 30.

Tags: Philanthropy, Margaret Benaka, Tax Credits, donations, Community Investment Tax Credit Program, charitable giving

Painting a Picture of Hope for HAC Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 03:50 PM

Dolores Edited-1-1.jpg
In her spare time, Dolores Barbati-Poore likes to paint. She has over a dozen original paintings in her Bourne home, the result of the popular paint nights that allow friends to socialize, all while nurturing their creativity.

If Dolores were to create a painting that epitomized her nearly 28 years at HAC, it would most likely represent a picture of hope. “Dolores brought compassion, empathy and she never really gave up on people, some of whom were our toughest clients,” HAC’s AnnMarie Torrey said in describing her coworker. “She took a person at face value. There was never any judgment. She was always trying to save people, trying to help people.”

On the Friday before Thanksgiving, Dolores said farewell to a career spent helping people get the housing services they needed to move forward with their lives. Her time now will be spent with her husband, Edward, a retired glass artist, and her family. She has two children, John and Kara, who live in Bourne, and he has two children, James and Mary Ann.

Dolores first started with HAC in February 1989, processing Chapter 707 certificates with Michael Sweeney, before becoming an assistant to Allison Alewine. Her role at HAC quickly expanded; over the years, she was the family shelter director, helping the agency start the Village at Cataumet in Bourne. She retired as director of the agency’s Project Prevention program which provides emergency funding for those at risk of homelessness due to illness, loss of job or family crisis.

“If the agency was an arrow, she would represent the very tip of it,” said HAC CEO Rick Presbrey. “She is the one that penetrated the target and was able to provide counsel and assistance to even the most difficult clients to get them into housing.”

Having a job where she could affect real change was the most rewarding aspect of her time at HAC. “I’ve been so lucky to have a job where I can help people and get paid for doing it because I like helping people progress in life,” Dolores said.

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Project Prevention, homelessness, HAC, Rick Presbrey, hope, Michael Sweeney, Dolores Barbati-Poore

Post-NOAH: Family Shelters, Outreach, Affordable Housing, All Priorities at HAC

Posted by Rick Presbrey on Sat, Dec 24, 2016 @ 09:45 AM

rick_at_big_fix.jpgMany people were surprised a few months ago when the Boston Globe came out with a comprehensive nationwide study of the causes of homelessness. Turns out, lack of affordable housing is a bigger factor than poverty when it comes to homelessness. That’s why Hawaii has more homeless people per capita than Mississippi.

Those findings make sense when you apply them to Cape Cod where, in recent years, we have seen an increasing population of homeless families, as the price of housing continues to rise.

For more than 25 years we have run four emergency shelters for homeless families on the Cape. They don’t get the same attention that our NOAH shelter did, perhaps because most people do not know they exist.

One of the shelters is behind a white picket fence on a main road in Hyannis. Another is a former motel in Bourne and a third is in a grand shingle-style historic home in Falmouth. The fourth, our Scattered Site program, consists of apartments for families in four buildings in Hyannis and Yarmouth.

Although we have turned over our NOAH shelter in Hyannis to Catholic Social Services, we still work with the homeless in our family shelters, which last year housed 174 families, including 195 kids.

We also are continuing to work with homeless individuals through our Outreach Program in which our workers go into the woods and other gathering places to try to bring homeless individuals to services and to get them situated in permanent housing. We also work with chronically homeless individuals through our case managers, who work with recently housed individuals to ensure they stay housed and don’t end up back on the street.

Preventing Homelessness on Cape Cod

Preventing homelessness is also the focus of our Project Prevention program for individuals and families. When there is a crisis such as a major car repair, health emergency, job layoff or other unforeseen event, we step in to help out financially by paying rent, a mortgage payment, a utility bill or other expenses to make sure that individual or family does not lose their home. It turns out that type of assistance also saves taxpayer dollars, because the cost to shelter people is much more expensive than the cost to keep people in their homes.

What is the best way to deal with homelessness—putting individuals and families in a shelter or finding a more permanent solution? Of course, one is short term and one is long term, but we try our best to focus on both. When all else fails, shelter is the solution and then we work to address the individual’s or family’s problems and get them into a good housing situation.

While we will always help homeless individuals and families on Cape Cod with emergency needs, we are also stepping up our efforts to create more affordable housing, because getting people into long-term housing is the ultimate goal. To accomplish that, it is sometimes necessary for families to move into the safe haven of a shelter while they participate in programming to help them get back into permanent housing and to find ways to secure an adequate income and become more self-sufficient. 

Help End Homelessness

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, homelessness, homelessness prevention, HAC, Rick Presbrey, NOAH Shelter

FSS Graduate One Step Closer to Homeownership

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Dec 23, 2016 @ 01:08 PM
Amy Feren Jan Nelson-3.jpgJan Nelson (left), HAC's FSS Coordinator, with Amy Feren at her graduation in October. 

Being a single mother is not easy. Mashpee’s Amy Feren can attest to that as she raises three children of her own. “There is no easy way around it,” she said. “You get up, make them breakfast, bring them to school and pick them up at the end of the day. You stick to a routine and do it all over again, every day.

“The weather doesn’t matter. The price of gas doesn’t matter. Life still goes on,” she continued. “It is very challenging with one income to make ends meet. It’s more difficult trying to accomplish what a two-income household has.”

Thanks to HAC’s help, overcoming those challenges has become a little easier. It started when Feren received a Section 8 voucher, allowing her to afford an apartment on Cape Cod. “Without one, my kids wouldn’t have a home,” Feren said. “I needed it because the rental prices are so high [here].”

Five years ago, Feren enrolled in HAC’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program which provides incentives for those with vouchers to take steps to increase their income and focus on career development, all in an effort to achieve self-sufficiency.

Celebrating Feren's FSS Achievements

At a ceremony at HAC in October, staff gathered to celebrate Feren’s graduation from FSS. There was cake and congratulations, but the biggest gift was a check for $11,991.71, representing the money she had saved over the past five years. As part of the FSS program, any increase in earned income is placed into an escrow account participants can access upon graduation.

Feren, who earned a paralegal certificate while in the program and is currently employed as an office manager in Plymouth, plans on using that money to purchase a home. If she does so in the next two years and gives up her housing voucher, she will receive an additional $5,000 from the state that she can use towards the down payment, closing costs or post-purchase expenses.

When asked why it is so important to become a homeowner, Feren replied, “to be self-reliant, to be self-sufficient. That is exactly what this program stands for and I think it is everybody’s dream. Every working person who contributes to society, I think they want to own their own home.”

Soon that will not be a dream for Feren, but a reality. She credited Jan Nelson, who manages the FSS program for HAC, for making that possible. “My life has consisted of a lot of ups and downs and some worse than others, but with your kindness and guidance I now have the tools to continue forward in life,” she wrote to Jan in an email following the ceremony. “You have been my one constant through my many, many years working with HAC and the Section 8 program.” 

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Section 8, Jan Nelson, Family Self Sufficiency, FSS, homeownership, Amy Feren

Toy Run Epitomizes Meaning of the Season

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Dec 19, 2016 @ 11:24 AM
HOG Run 16-5.jpgMotorcycles make their way onto Old Main Road in North Falmouth, delivering toys to our Carriage House shelter. Over 150 motorcyclists participated in last month's toy run, ensuring our children in shelter will have gifts to open during the holidays. 

What compels people to give to complete strangers during the holidays? “So this guy doesn’t have to work so hard,” Cotuit’s David Andrade joked as Santa Claus walked by him on the first Sunday of November at HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth.

It may have been a comment made in jest, but Andrade and over 150 motorcyclists with nothing to gain other than the satisfaction of helping others, did just that as part of the 17th Annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run. They came from all over Cape Cod as well as the South Shore, Boston and even Rhode Island to deliver over $3,000 worth of toys that will go to children living in HAC’s shelters as well as $2,600 in monetary donations to support HAC’s housing work on Cape Cod and the islands.

The toy run has actually been taking place for the past 27 years. In 1999, it was named in honor of longtime organizer Christina Wetherbee, who died of cancer the following spring. Since then, her husband, Joe Wetherbee, and his second wife, Clarissa, have organized the run with the help of the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG).

“It’s all for the children,” Joe said, a statement echoed by several of the ride’s participants. “It is not their fault they are in shelter and a lot of times it is not the parents fault.”

HAC CEO Rick Presbrey expressed his appreciation for those who participated in the toy run as it will help HAC’s three family shelters and bring a little joy to the nearly 50 families staying there over the holidays. “It’s really the beginning of the holiday season for us,” he said. “It gets the spirit going early, and that’s a good thing.”

HOG Run 16-12.jpg

To view more pictures from last month's toy run, visit our Facebook page here. And to give to our families in shelter, click here

Tags: Family Shelter, Philanthropy, Carriage House, Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run, charitable giving, holiday giving

HAC Addresses Homelessness in Falmouth

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 @ 12:43 PM
Belonging to Each Other Edited.jpgEllie Shaver (from left), Alan Burt and HAC's Deborah McDonnell are working to assist Falmouth's homeless this winter to get the services they need to turn their lives around. 

What’s it like to be homeless? “Hell, literally,” said 39-year-old Brian (his name has been changed to protect his identity) on the first day of December as he stood outside a Falmouth motel that will serve as his temporary home over the winter.

For nearly two months, Brian had lived in a tent in the woods in Falmouth. “I wish I could take you there. It is flooded,” he said, before pausing to assess his current situation. “This is great. You sent me angels.”

Brian is one of 13 men and women who will benefit from a joint program between HAC and Belonging to Each Other to assist Falmouth’s homeless, from December to the end of March. An East Falmouth home is being rented to house four of them while the remainder of the men and women will stay at two motels in town.

This fall, HAC received a $9,000 grant from Falmouth Human Services to provide case management for the individuals. HAC’s Deborah McDonnell will serve in that capacity.

The program is being managed by Alan Burt, a longtime homeless advocate and co-founder of Homeless Not Hopeless in Hyannis. Last year, Burt worked with HAC and members of several faith-based groups which formed Belonging to Each Other in an effort to find a way to address homelessness in that Upper Cape community. The results were promising: out of 27 homeless individuals, they were able to place 20 of them into housing.

Addressing the Gap in Services

“Initially this started because you can’t let people die from the cold in the winter,” said Falmouth’s Ellie Shaver, a parishioner at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church which has taken a leading role in the program. “The more you learn about homelessness, the more you realize there is a huge hole on the Cape, that there is a population of people who live here, who were born here, some of whom work here and who just can’t afford housing.”

And so HAC has lent its support and expertise to solve homelessness at a micro level. “What we’re trying to do is work in communities, in the Mid-Cape area and, in particular, highly populated areas, to help the homeless people stay in their communities of origin rather than having people come to Hyannis for shelter,” explained HAC CEO Rick Presbrey.

If successful, Burt said this could potentially serve as a model that could be replicated in other communities across Cape Cod.

For now, the goals are more modest: provide those like Brian with a safe haven over the next few months so he can start to rebuild his life. “This is a godsend,” he said, before he identified what he hoped to achieve over the next few months. “I want to save up my money so I can have my own place.”

Help End Homelessness

Tags: homelessness, Falmouth, Belonging to Each Other, Alan Burt, Deborah McDonnell

HAC Names Alisa Galazzi as New CEO

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 @ 11:08 AM

galazzi family.jpgAlisa Galazzi with her husband, Chris, and their three children, Francesca, Michela and Eliana. Alisa will start her now role at HAC on January 3. 

Over 3,000 miles and three time zones separate Los Angeles from Cape Cod, but that West Coast city is where Alisa Galazzi was first exposed to nonprofit work and issues related to housing during the mid-90s. “I started volunteering at an organization, Inner-City Arts, in downtown skid row and they provided free art programming for children there who were homeless,” she said. “Watching the transformation that happened in the lives of those kids and the families was very moving and powerful and intoxicating.”

That was enough to prompt a career shift for Galazzi, who had previously worked in the field of television. Following 9/11, Galazzi and her husband Chris, the current executive director for the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis, moved to Cape Cod to be closer to family.

Over the past 15 years, Galazzi has honed her skills and talents as an executive in the nonprofit world – she is currently the Chief Operating Officer for Gosnold on Cape Cod and previously served as the Executive Director for Alzheimer’s Services of Cape Cod & the Islands, all experiences she will draw upon in her newest role: CEO of HAC.

Last month, HAC’s Board of Directors announced the hiring of Galazzi, who lives in Orleans with her husband and their three children Francesca, 15, Michela, 14, and Eliana, 12. “Alisa has the perfect blend of leadership experience, proven skills, and personal passion to build on the great foundation of HAC’s services,” said David Augustinho, chair of HAC’s board of directors.

Galazzi will replace HAC’s current CEO and President Rick Presbrey, who founded the agency in 1974. Presbrey expressed confidence in Galazzi’s ability to lead the agency. “It is probably more important to me than anyone that HAC gets left in good hands,” he said. “Alisa is a very intelligent, well-organized, very talented and committed person.”

Galazzi is looking forward to helping address the region’s affordable housing issues. “Personally, I have seen firsthand how having stable, secure housing in a loved one’s life is literally a game changer,” she said. “This is an expensive place to live where wages are low. We have to think about the Cape from a broader perspective and the needs of our region and our workforce and trying to tie it all together. It is more than housing. It is economic development and it is self-sustainability.”

Tags: HAC, Rick Presbrey, Alisa Galazzi

Take Advantage of HAC's Tax Credits This Holiday Season

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Dec 05, 2016 @ 01:10 PM

Tax Credits (December 2016).png

With the holiday season here, donating to HAC is one way to ensure those in need are cared for at a time of year when they could use it most. Especially with colder temperatures coming, HAC’s work can make a major difference in the lives of those struggling to get by and who may be working two or three jobs just to remain in their apartment or home.

Thanks to HAC’s tax credits, you can make your holiday gift to HAC go further this year. The tax credits are for those who donate over the $1,000 threshold and are either new donors or who double their donations from last year.

In return for your donation, you will receive half back in tax credits. This is on top of the federal tax deduction you are allowed to declare for charitable giving.

Aside from the tax benefits, you can be confident that your gift may be helping a neighbor in need, someone who may be one paycheck away from homelessness. Your gift could help them remain in their apartment and off the streets. And isn’t that what the holiday season is all about?

For more information about HAC’s tax credits, click this link or contact Margaret Benaka at mbenaka@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 272.

Tags: Fundraising, Tax Credits, Community Investment Tax Credit Program, charitable giving, holiday giving