On Monday, March 11, 2013, Marieh Azari along with housing counselors from Housing Assistance Corporation and South Shore Housing headed to Boston for the annual Regional Housing Network Legislative Meeting.
This meeting provides an opportunity for the nine member agencies of Regional Housing Network to meet with individual legislators and aides. The goal of this meeting is to promote the programs and services offered through the various agencies assisting residents to find and stabilize their housing situation throughout the state of Massachusetts, and to secure the continued voting support of our legislators.
In 2002, after escaping from domestic abuse with her then two-year-old son, Benjamin, Marieh found herself homeless in the city of Boston.
“The HCEC person, Kathy Facchini, worked quickly to get me and my son into transitional housing at New Hope Shelter for Women in Attleboro,” Marieh said, explaining how she eventually used the resources around her to get the help she needed.
While in shelter Marieh attended Blaine School for Hair and became a hairdresser by day. By night she was filling out housing applications, “at least 10-20 every single day.” South Shore Housing’s Consumer Education staff walked her through the daunting process.
By 2004, thanks to South Shore Housing, Marieh and her son received a housing unit subsidy in Bourne. “We were literally dropped off on the front steps of a condo with all that we owned, which filled two small suitcases. We both cried out of relief as well as fear. South Shore had connected me to Referral to Resources for clothing, child care and food,” Marieh said.
Marieh and her son lived in this Bourne condo for about 8 years. During this time she was able to go back to school and she became a nurse. She continued to maintain a very close relationship with her South Shore HCEC “family.” “Those eight years took a real toll on my Benjamin. The trauma of what we both had been through with his dad, living in shelter and then living in what most people would call the ‘projects’ of Bourne had stolen his childhood. His self-esteem was low, his grades were horrible and he was physically not growing,” Marieh explains.
By 2011 Marieh graduated from the nursing program and had dreams of owning her own home. South Shore referred her to Housing Assistance Corporation’s HCEC contact, which led her to the First Time Homebuyers Program.
“I then worked with HAC’s real estate office, Cape Community Real Estate, and in 2012, purchased a beautiful new home in Sandwich. I’m now an official Cape Codder. My Benjamin has come out of his darkness and sorrow. He’s gone from a D student to an A student. He’s physically growing. I see the changes every day since the first day of homeownership,” describes Marieh.
Marieh also describes, “I would not have been able to get out of a bad cycle without the constant connection to both HCEC teams. Not only did they keep me moving through a horrible situation, but they motivated me to move up and out.”
To learn about HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center, please visit us online at www.HAConCapeCod.org or call 508-771-5400.
As the CEO of an organization that manages a variety of different programs, all of which help people in need of a decent home, I am always looking for ways to be more effective. Often I, we, have a pretty good idea of how to improve what we do, but more often than not it takes money. So, we raise money the best we can.
Two areas where we would like to improve what we do are sheltering families and sheltering individuals. We do the sheltering part pretty well. All of our shelters are carefully managed to create as safe and healthy an environment as possible. We have a pretty good track record in that respect.
We also have a very good record of getting people into housing. Of course, the more resources we have the more people get placed. At times in the past we have had almost adequate money to house a large proportion of families in need, but we have never had much to house homeless individuals. These days we have less money to house either population, families or individuals.
Besides more money for housing, which we are working on, we’d like to be able to find funds to create and manage programmatic activities that make stays in shelter more valuable for both populations. Individuals often need detox, health services and mental health services. Families frequently need the same. What both populations need is pre-employment training. In today’s world, unless you have a serious and verifiable disability, you need to work to support yourself. Most of the people we serve are not personally equipped to obtain and maintain a job that pays that much. A well-organized curriculum of personal self-management and pre-employment training, as well as some funding and staffing to supervise internships, might well make the difference many need.
People, in my experience, want to work, to support themselves and have productive lives. Circumstances have been cruel and unforgiving to them, and they need kindness, patience and a hand up.
We are determined to develop and implement such a plan.
As the cold weather arrives, it is a reminder that the 9th Annual NOAH Telethon is right around the corner! We hope you’ll join us to volunteer on Wednesday, December 12.
As a PAL (phone attendant liason) in the Telethon’s on-air phone bank, you can share in a wonderful holiday tradition while you help others move “From Homelessness to Hope to Housing.” It’s easy!
1. Let your friends and neighbors know why you think it’s important to support NOAH.
2. Ask them to tune in to local cable channels 13 and 99 for this festive evening!
3. On Telethon night, bring along a list of these people to call for a donation.
Together, we can make 12-12-12 a night to remember! Help make the season brighter for those in need in our community. If you have questions or need more information, contact Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@HAConCapeCod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 279.
Mindy Todd of NPR station WCAI will return as the telethon host. Joining her as guest hosts will be HAC CEO Rick Presbrey, Philip Mangano (former head of the U.S. Interagency Council on the Homeless), Matt Pitta of WXTK, Paul Pronovost of the Cape Cod Times and HAC’s director of resource development Lisa Guyon. DJ Suzanne Tonaire of WGTX is lining up local musicians to provide entertainment during the telethon.
NOAH serves over 450 homeless men and women, through the winter and all year long, right here on Cape Cod. $45 provides one day of client services, including access to housing and employment services, two meals, a bed, showers, emergency clothing and special referrals. $540 provides a day of client services, once a month for a year.
The Telethon will take place at Cape Cod Community Media Center, 17 Shad Hole Road, Dennisport and will be shown live 4-9 p.m. on cable access channels 13 and 99 from Bourne to Provincetown.
Back to school is an exciting and anxious time for kids and parents. A common anxiety for many of us is seeing a child take the bus for the first time. But if you are a family in shelter with school-age kids, your anxiety runs deeper. Shelter parents and staff worry if school applications will be accepted, or if they will be able to secure a bus pass or lunch voucher. This is compounded by the lack of permanent housing.
Yet school-age shelter kids still find excitement at the prospect of a new adventure and their parents can find unexpected reassurance from a shelter support system, such as those at Angel House, Carriage House and The Village at Cataumet. All three shelters work diligently with parents to ensure every kid is registered for school and prepared for the first day. This is where these kids become part of the wonderful Cape community, our community.
As we celebrate these first few days of school, we’d like to ask for your financial support to help our shelter staff and families be better prepared for the months ahead. For the past 38 years HAC’s mission has been providing safe, decent and stable housing for all but we can’t do it alone. Click here to donate to our family shelter programs.
Best wishes for a wonderful school year and we hope to hear from you.
Your friends at Housing Assistance Corporation
Guest Contributor: Marilyn Larviere
Marilyn Lariviere is the coordinator of Youth StreetReach, a program in which children from church youth groups and school community-service clubs provide breakfast and collect clothes for the homeless half a dozen times per year.
Reading the newspaper and looking for “good news” can sometimes be a challenge. Maybe it’s because no one takes the time to really observe some of the things that happen every day in our community. But small miracles do happen on a daily basis if we take the time to look for them. This is a story of how people can make a difference.
Over the winter, 54 headstones in the small cemetery in back of the Federated Church on Main Street in Hyannis were tipped over by vandals. We don’t know who did this or why, but that isn’t the important part of the story.
On Easter Sunday I looked out and saw some individuals in the cemetery. At first I thought it was the vandals returning to finish the job in broad daylight! But then I looked again and saw that it was a group of nine people from the NOAH shelter who were working hard at repairing the damage that had been caused earlier. What a way to celebrate a “resurrection” moment! It was not easy work, but they managed to complete it, before returning to sign in at NOAH for a bed that night.
Many of these folks regularly attend our Youth StreetReach breakfasts held six times a year at the church. This program provides youth from area churches and schools the opportunity to work with and for the homeless in a community setting.
The mission statement for Youth StreetReach is: “To integrate education, worship, and outreach in order to make youth more aware of injustice and to respect the dignity of all people, especially the lonely, lost, and disenfranchised.” It is pretty obvious that if people are treated with dignity, they usually will respond accordingly. Our breakfasts are always times to learn from one another.
At our April breakfast, Scott, the leader of the group who had done the work, shared that his mother was buried in that cemetery. He talked to some of his friends at NOAH and convinced them to spend some time working together in the cemetery. So they came on Easter and while choirs were singing and people were praying, this little band was out there working and making a difference.
No one told them to do this. It wasn’t anything suggested by the staff at the NOAH shelter. In fact no one even knew that they did it, except for those who happened to see them that morning. Clearly they wanted to give a little something back to the community that supports them. So enjoy this bit of “good news” and say thanks to our friends from NOAH if you see them.