Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

New Report Shows HAC's Economic Impact on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 @ 11:15 AM

 HAC's Economic Impact Photo.jpg

On the surface, there is an economic value to the work HAC does. But how specifically is that value measured?

HAC intern James Boyd provided those key details this summer, working with staff to update the agency’s Economic Impact Study which was first prepared in 2003. The paper looks at the impact that both HAC’s housing programs and the organization, as an employer, have on the Cape Cod economy.

James, the 2015 class valedictorian at Mashpee High School, is now a sophomore at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

From a programmatic perspective, the study stresses that not only is HAC’s work socially and morally important, “but as a growing body of economic research and analysis confirms, it is an economic necessity in a services driven economy.” That work ranges from developing affordable housing to providing shelter to the homeless to helping clients achieve homeownership through education, counseling and financial support.

Because of these programs, nearly $17 million of HAC’s $23.6 million budget in fiscal year 2016 came to the agency from off-Cape sources. These sources included the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); the state Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA); the state Department of Mental Health (DMH); and the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

The economic boost this funding provides to the region can be seen in the $9.7 million in rental subsidies HAC managed in 2015. Those funds had a direct, tangible impact on Cape Cod, keeping 1,019 low- and moderate-income residents – these included workers, seniors and disabled people – safely housed. But it added another value as 77% of those funds ($7.47 million) went to Cape property owners who serve as landlords for rental units that provide affordable housing on Cape Cod.

James_Edited.jpgHAC intern James Boyd with HAC staffers Laura Reckford (from left), Mary LeClair, Margaret Benaka, Deanna Bussiere and Mary Everett-Patriquin. During his internship, James updated HAC's Economic Impact report to show the value the agency has on the region.

Another HAC program that provides an economic boost to the region is the Down Payment and Closing Cost Program, which HAC administers through Barnstable County using HUD funds. Last year, the program provided 10 families with $81,668 in down payment and closing cost assistance, helping them purchase homes in Barnstable County. Those funds had an additional economic benefit, going to support local real estate agents, attorneys and lenders who helped those families in the home buying process.

Impact as an Employer
HAC’s economic impact on the region goes well beyond the services it provides to clients. As one of the largest human service agencies on Cape Cod, the impact can also be seen in its role as an employer. With a payroll of $6.3 million, HAC employed 136 people in 2015. Of that number, 128 live on Cape Cod. The study estimates that HAC employees spent $3.6 million of their income on non-housing related expenses, keeping a large portion of that money in the local community.

“The salaries and wages HAC paid to its employees are important parts of HAC’s regional economic impact,” the study states. “These earnings enable employees to support themselves and their families and generate economic benefits for their communities and the businesses they use.”

The report anticipates that HAC’s impact on the region will only continue to grow in conjunction with the need for quality affordable housing to sustain Cape Cod’s economy. This will serve to strengthen not only the agency, but the region as well. “A greater HAC contribution to the region’s economy inevitably means greater interdependence,” it reads. “More than ever, partnerships between HAC and municipal, state, and federal government agencies, as well as between HAC and the Cape Cod businesses with which it operates, will be a prerequisite for growth.”

Tags: HAC, Economic Impact, Report, James Boyd

From Intern to Case Manager

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 @ 10:16 AM


Starting over can be difficult, something HAC’s Julie Munson knows all too well. In recent years, she experienced that when she said farewell to a 25-year career in the military to pursue an entirely new path in social services.

That may be why she is so well suited to her new position as a case manager at The Village at Cataumet which allows her to assist HAC clients in a similar situation. At that HAC shelter, clients are trying to rebuild their lives, starting anew, as they look to find employment, permanent housing and stability. “I help clients get back on their feet,” Munson said. “I teach them how to become independent.”

Sometimes progress is slow which Munson herself dealt with when she first started working at HAC in May 2012, as an intern at The Village at Cataumet at the age of 41.

Prior to that, she had spent her entire adult life serving in the Air Force. She was most recently stationed at Otis Air National Guard Base where she attained the rank of Senior Master Sergeant and was employed as a personnel readiness manager. While in the military, Munson said she enjoyed “helping people. In my last position I did deployments so I briefed family members of people going to Afghanistan and Iran and I prepared them for what might happen.”

It is not unlike her current position in which she is working with shelter clients. “Here, I am doing the same thing: I’m giving people the resources they need to succeed,” she said.

Munson balanced her internship at The Village at Cataumet with courses at Cape Cod Community College where she eventually obtained an associate’s degree in human services.

As an intern, Munson served as the shelter’s activities director, bringing children who live at the shelter to the park, playground, museums, the library and even mini-golfing. At the end of her internship, she was able to continue at HAC, working per diem at not only Cataumet, but Carriage House and NOAH.

Paula Mallard, facility director at Cataumet, said that Munson “has a lot of compassion for the clients,” calling her an asset to the shelter.

In May, Munson’s relationship with HAC grew when she was promoted to case manager, filling the vacancy left when Yvonne Rivers was named the facility director at Carriage House. Just a few days later, Munson was receiving her bachelor’s degree in social work from Bridgewater State College. “It was overwhelming,” she said. “All in one week my life changed and it was all positive.”

Her story serves as an example to shelter clients that progress does not always happen overnight. It takes time and requires hard work and patience, along with the support of staff like Munson whose recent experiences have given her an understanding of how to handle significant transitions in life.

Tags: Family Shelter, homelessness, Village at Cataumet, Julie Munson

Trivia Night in Dennis

Posted by HAC Staff on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 @ 11:34 AM


Test your knowledge against other trivia buffs this Friday, October 21, from 6 to 9:30 pm at The Sea View in Dennis Port, all to support a great cause. The event will go to benefit FORWARD (Friends Or Relatives With Autism & Related Disabilities) which is partnering with HAC to build housing for adults with developmental disabilities on 4.9 acres of land in Dennis.

Tickets for Friday's Trivia Night are $50 per person and both individuals and teams are encouraged to sign up. Team prizes will be awarded for first place ($500), second place ($200) and third place ($100). Food is included as part of the event which will also feature a silent and live auction.

To purchase tickets online, click this link. You can also purchase tickets by making a check out to F.O.R.W.A.R.D., P.O. Box 1174, South Dennis, MA 02660. For more information, call 508-385-4664.

Tags: fundraiser, FORWARD at the Rock, trivia night

HAC Brings Biggest Big Fix Ever to Brewster

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 @ 11:13 AM
Big_Fix-1.jpgHAC's Liz Belcher with her Big Fix team which made improvements to Joan Graham's Brewster home

Early on a mid-September Saturday morning in Brewster, as complete strangers started clearing brush and cutting back overgrown trees from her Main Street yard, 73-year-old Joan Graham had tears in her eyes as she stood inside her kitchen. “It’s very exciting,” she said. “It’s also nerve-wracking too. I am pretty independent and it is hard to accept help.”

Graham was one of 14 Brewster residents to benefit from this year’s Big Fix that saw the largest turnout ever for the day of service, with 278 volunteers dedicating a few hours to make small home improvements for seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners in the Cape community.

The Brewster Big Fix attracted volunteers from throughout Cape Cod and at least one from off-Cape, who participated in the annual community service event. And there were several groups – Mashpee Boy Scout Troop 36, AmeriCorps Cape Cod, Cape Associates and the Barnstable High School Human Rights Club, among others – that did their part in giving back to their neighbors in need.

In many ways, the day represents a celebration of what it means to be a community which is why it was more than appropriate that volunteer Deb Beresford of Hyannis spent her birthday cleaning up 88-year-old Eleanor Stieglitz’s yard. “Last year, we did it for a veteran who came out and cried when he said, ‘thank you’ to us,” said Beresford, who has participated in several Big Fixes. “It touches your heart when you can do something so meaningful for somebody. And it’s a great way to spend your birthday.”

Big Fix Beneficiaries
At the same home, more than a dozen children who are members of Shea’s Youth Basketball Association, were busy with yard work, all in an effort to make Ms. Stieglitz’s life a little easier. Jonah Shea, founder of the basketball nonprofit, said the great part about the Big Fix is that “you get to see the actual person you’re helping.”

These were people like John and Antoinette Mara, who had built their Brewster home in 1976, moving there permanently eight years later. John, 92, had served in the Pacific Theater for the Navy during World War II. The couple had recently celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary; the Big Fix served as the icing on the cake to that celebration. “Our home means everything,” said Antoinette. “And now I can walk up my driveway and see our house as I always wanted it to look.”

Big_Fix-3.jpgGiving back can be fun as shown by Ryan Johnson (left), an assistant scoutmaster for Mashpee Boy Scout Troop 36, and Rowan Higgins, who volunteered at the Mara's home in Brewster. 

Earlier in the morning, HAC CEO Rick Presbrey spoke about what the volunteer work would mean to homeowners like the Maras during the kick-off to the Big Fix at Stony Brook Elementary School. “This is something unbelievable for most of them, the fact that somebody actually comes to their house and takes care of things that have been frustrating and bothering them,” he said.

For 67-year-old Owen Hirtle, the Big Fix represented exactly that. After volunteers had left his home, having removed trash and cleaned his yard, the Vietnam veteran reflected on the act of charity that had been thrust upon him. “This is the biggest ‘thank you’ I have had since I got out [of the military],” he said. “It makes me feel even more proud I live in this country and that people do care.”

To view more pictures from last month's Big Fix, click this link. Next year, HAC will be bringing the Big Fix to Falmouth. You can click the above link to learn more about the Big Fix or apply to be a recipient or a volunteer. 

Tags: Philanthropy, volunteerism, Big Fix, Brewster Big Fix

Editorial: A Lot to Be Proud of with NOAH Shelter

Posted by Rick Presbrey on Fri, Oct 07, 2016 @ 03:47 PM

rick_at_big_fix.jpgThirty-two years ago, a representative from a committee within the Town of Barnstable came to my office to ask if HAC would agree to open a shelter in Hyannis for homeless individuals. I remember the moment well. I didn’t want to do it. I asked if other organizations could do it and I was told that the most likely one had refused.

I thought about our mission to help people obtain decent housing and how this was “off mission” and would be a distraction. But my sense that someone needed to do it won out. At that moment and ever since, I have felt a “moral imperative” (a phrase coined by one of our Board members) to provide a safe haven for the neediest of our brothers and sisters.

I feel great pride in what we have been able to accomplish. For 32 years, 365 nights per year, we have provided a safe place for people to sleep, take a shower, and receive two nutritious meals a day. In the worst of weather we have kept people alive.

Thousands of volunteers from all across the Cape have helped in dozens of ways. An evening meal has been prepared by volunteers almost every night, serving more than a half a million meals over more than three decades.

We have put three additions on the building where our offices had previously been in order to improve our ability to provide a variety of services. We have made it possible for men and women to be entirely separate, including separate entrances.

In recent times, we opened a day center, keeping the facility open 24 hours a day rather than only at night. We have placed approximately 3,000 of our guests in permanent housing as well as many in part- or full-time jobs.

Perhaps most important of all, we have engaged everyone who was willing in discussions on how to improve their lives by addressing their biggest problems. Thanks to a great staff and leadership and the tireless work of a half dozen committed people in the community, NOAH is the best it has ever been, which is very satisfying for me and I hope for all those who work and volunteer at NOAH.

Locally, we have absorbed lots of criticism, but we have kept the faith and kept on working, doing our best to provide a safe, stable and decent emergency shelter.

But change is always inevitable. About six months ago another agency came forward and expressed interest in taking over the operation of NOAH. The organization operates other shelters and has a fantastic track record in raising money. They are convincing in their belief that they can do the job well. The HAC Board has encouraged me to consider this option of turning over the day-to-day running of the shelter.

The arguments for making the change are that the operation of the NOAH Shelter, and raising the money we need to stay open, takes an inordinate amount of time of many who work at HAC, including myself, and that if we were to give up the day-to-day operation we could develop and raise money for a more comprehensive approach to getting many more homeless individuals in to housing, which is central to our mission. There is a decision to be made. For me it has been a difficult one, especially since it is likely I will retire within the next 18 months and I want to hand off as doable a job as I can to my successor.

By the time you read this our Board will have made this decision. My recommendation will be to move ahead with the transfer. I am at peace with my recommendation because, if this change goes forward, we can do more to house homeless individuals and we will be leaving this work in good hands. Thirty-two years is a long time. I think we have a lot to be proud of.

Read more about the NOAH Shelter decision by clicking this link.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, homelessness, Rick Presbrey, NOAH Shelter, Catholic Social Services

HAC in Talks with Catholic Social Services for Operation of NOAH

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Oct 07, 2016 @ 03:16 PM


After operating the NOAH Shelter for the past 32 years, HAC will soon be handing that responsibility over to Catholic Social Services (CSS) of the Diocese of Fall River. HAC's board of directors voted on Wednesday evening to turn over operations of NOAH to CSS. 

The change is being made as part of a strategic shift to devote more resources to finding permanent housing for homeless people in need.

HAC CEO Rick Presbrey said this move would align with the agency’s recently adopted strategic plan which lists expanding housing production as a priority. “With Cape Cod’s problem of a lack of affordable housing growing worse by the year, HAC, with its 42-year focus on housing, is in a unique position to become even more involved in solving the problem,” Presbrey said. “Toward that end, we would like to better serve the entire Cape by helping to secure more housing for individuals, develop more housing options and add to our efforts to prevent individuals from becoming homeless in the first place. All of these initiatives, which are part of our new strategic plan, will require additional resources.”

In recent months, HAC has been in talks with Catholic Social Services, which runs three shelters in southeastern Massachusetts, to oversee the day-to-day operations of NOAH. “Forming a partnership with Catholic Social Services in the operation of the NOAH Shelter is one way to better service the ever-changing needs and demands of the Cape’s homeless population,” Presbrey said.

HAC opened NOAH in the winter of 1984 in the old Hyannis Armory which offered a warm meal and 30 beds for homeless men and women seeking emergency shelter. The next year, the shelter moved to its current location on Winter Street, where it has operated ever since. The facility averages 50 individuals a night and a total of 420 individuals per year.

Catholic Social Services CEO Arlene McNamee noted that the agency has much experience in running a shelter.

“Serving the homeless is a big part of what Catholic Social Services does,” she said. “Last year, after operating Market Ministries for 4 years in New Bedford, we opened the new Sister Rose House Shelter for men and Grace House for women in that city, and for several years now we’ve run the Samaritan Shelter for men and women in Taunton.”

HAC will continue to run its three other family shelters: Angel House in Hyannis, which serves women recovering from substance abuse and their children; Carriage House in North Falmouth, which serves first-time mothers; and The Village at Cataumet, which serves homeless families. HAC will also continue its Scattered Site shelter program, its new Homeless Outreach program and Project Prevention which prevents families and individuals from becoming homeless in the first place.

Our CEO Rick Presbrey shares his thoughts about the NOAH Shelter in his latest editorial, explaining why the move is being made and what the agency has accomplished in its 32 years of operating the shelter. 

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, homelessness, NOAH Shelter, Catholic Social Service

Tax Credits Put Money Back in Your Pocket!

Posted by HAC Staff on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 @ 05:46 PM


HAC has a limited amount of tax credits available as an incentive to increase your donation to support the agency’s housing programs on Cape Cod and the islands. The state put the tax program in place to encourage people to give more to organizations like HAC than they have in the past.

Tax credits are available only for those who donate over $1,000 with the goal of getting new donors and having current donors double their donation as they will receive half back in their taxes next year. So for those donating:

  • $1,000, you will receive $500 in tax credits back.
  • $5,000, you will receive $2,500 in tax credits back.
  • $10,000, you will receive $5,000 in tax credits back.
This credit is on top of the federal tax deduction you are allowed to deduct from your taxes.

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.

The best part of the program is that it allows your dollars to go further in supporting HAC’s mission.

For more information or to reserve your tax credits contact Margaret Benaka at mbenaka@haconcapecod.org or at 508-771-5400, ext. 272.

Tags: Tax Credits, donations, Community Investment Tax Credit Program

NOAH Starts Movie Discussion Group

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 @ 05:37 PM


Movies have the ability to make people think about themselves and the world they live in. And at the NOAH Shelter, director Greg Bar is using them as an avenue to stimulate dialogue among the homeless men and women staying there.

It started at the end of April with a Friday afternoon screening of “The Lady in the Van”, a British film that tells the real life story of playwright Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) and a homeless woman, Mary Shepherd (Maggie Smith), who ends up living in a van parked in his London driveway for 15 years. In February, Cape Cinema held a special screening of the independent film as part of a benefit for HAC featuring a panel discussion that included Bar.

After participating in that event, Bar wanted to show the film to those at NOAH to get their thoughts. When Marvin Domino, a NOAH direct care staff member, asked what the most positive aspect of the film was, Doug, a 52-year-old guest at the shelter, responded, “that there is forgiveness and that there is understanding. And we don’t have to put blame on ourselves and we don’t have to be so hard on ourselves.”

For nearly 45 minutes, guests talked about the movie, what they liked about it and whether it would change people’s perceptions of the homeless.

Based on the feedback, Bar has continued the movie discussion group, screening films focused on overcoming adversity like “Conviction”, “Good Will Hunting” and Crash.” “The first one went so well, I decided let’s keep going,” Bar said. “I like the idea of discussion times for anything… It is good to talk.”

Tags: NOAH Shelter, Greg Bar, movies

HCEC Teaches Shelter Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 @ 01:56 PM
HCEC_Angel_House_Photo-1.jpgCheryl Kramer (front center) poses with her HCEC students from Angel House.

A funny thing happened at the end of May when HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) manager Cheryl Kramer finished up a budgeting and credit education workshop at the Angel House shelter. “They wanted me to come back and teach our Be a Smart Tenant class,” she said.

It is just one sign that the mothers at Angel House are embracing steps to move forward in a positive direction with their lives. Wanting to assist in that effort, Kramer returned and taught the tenancy class which covers everything from renter’s insurance to working with landlords to how to handle an eviction.

In the middle of June, 12 mothers who took the Be a Smart Tenant workshop were handed certificates of completion from Kramer. Afterwards, they spoke about how it benefitted them as they prepare for their ultimate goal of moving out of shelter and into permanent housing. “I feel more confident about moving on from here,” said Victoria Chase.

While HAC has long offered these types of classes to the general public, it has only recently begun to bring them into its shelters. Clients at the NOAH Shelter and Angel House, which are both in Hyannis, are now benefitting from the workshops Kramer has been teaching for years.

Over the past five years, she has taught the Be a Smart Tenant class at both The Village at Cataumet in Bourne and Carriage House in North Falmouth. Last fall, she brought a workshop focusing on budgeting and rebuilding your credit to NOAH, following that up with two additional ones earlier this year.

The curriculum for that class teaches students the components of a budget, how to write a budget, how to review one’s budget, how to fix items in one’s credit report and how to improve and sustain a credit score.

“It has been amazing,” Kramer said of teaching these workshops to the region’s most needy. “The NOAH Shelter guests are so vulnerable, yet are so open to learning, as are the Angel House women. The women at Angel House are so vested and so interested in this. It is so evident they have a desire to learn to do things differently… they are not there because they have to be there. They are there because they want to be.”

Following the Angel House graduation in May, Kramer spoke about the importance of bringing these HCEC workshops to those in shelter, noting that it helps them succeed in securing housing and work. “To know you’ve helped them do something different for their future and for their family is just a fun process,” Kramer said of the rewards she has reaped from teaching in HAC’s homeless shelters.

Click here to learn more about the financial literacy classes offered through HAC's Housing Consumer Education Center. Thanks to a grant we received from the CCYP Giving Circle of The Cape Cod Foundation, we are offering three of those classes for free, for a limited time. 

Tags: HCEC, NOAH Shelter, Angel House, Cheryl Kramer, housing consumer education

DYECH Approaches Major Milestone

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 @ 05:10 PM


Success does not happen overnight. And neither does change. But the Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) has achieved both through a commitment to helping those most in need on Cape Cod.

The council, now in its 23rd year of existence, is closing in on a major milestone that directly impacts HAC clients: $1.5 million raised for the agency’s Project Prevention program, which provides short-term financial assistance for those at risk of homelessness.

A portion of the funds DYECH raises comes from relatively small, meaningful fundraisers like these upcoming ones:

  • Big Band Concert on Tuesday, September 27 at 7:30 pm at St. Pius X Life Center at 21 Barbara Street in Yarmouth. The concert is free and there will be a good-will offering.
  • The 99 Restaurant at 14 Berry Avenue, West Yarmouth, will be donating a portion of your check to DYECH on Thursday, October 13 from 11:30 am to 9 pm. You must present your server with this flier in order to participate in the fundraiser.

These are fun, simple ways you can help DYECH reach its fundraising milestone, all while ensuring your neighbors on Cape Cod can remain in their homes.

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, fundraiser