Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Alisa Galazzi

Recent Posts

Editorial: Lofts at 57 a New Development Model for HAC

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Mon, Feb 12, 2018 @ 10:29 AM
Ridgewood Plans-2 (February 2018).jpg A street elevation rendering of the Lofts at 57 from Ridgewood Avenue. 

Funding for affordable housing has long depended on federal tax credits, a complicated, time-consuming and unreliable method. Using tax credits meant years of waiting “in line” for the funding. With our shortage of affordable housing at a crisis point in our region, we simply don’t have the time to wait.

That is why Housing Assistance Corporation’s Housing Development Department has come up with a new housing development model and a new way to fund it. We call it “pocket neighborhoods,” modeled after historic examples like the gingerbread cottage colony in Oak Bluffs. Our pocket neighborhoods will have a mix of affordable and market rate units; will not rely on federal government funding; and will be able to meet the needs of locals at all income levels.

HAC has purchased a .7-acre lot on Ridgewood Avenue in downtown Hyannis, a centrally located spot near the Hyannis Transportation Center; on the sewer line; and in the Growth Incentive Zone (GIZ). Because of the lot’s location in the GIZ, we were encouraged by the Barnstable Planning and Development Department to pursue a higher density development.

We plan to build eight rental apartments on the property, six of which would be market rate and two of which would be affordable for those earning 80 percent or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Barnstable County.

Ridgewood Front Elevation Photo (February 2018).jpg A rendering of the front elevation of one of the triplexes which features a wrap-around porch.

Titled the Lofts at 57, the project represents a new development model for HAC and one we hope to replicate throughout our region.

Since last fall, HAC has been working with the Town of Barnstable to vet the project. It has already received approval from Barnstable’s Site Plan Review committee and will next go before the Barnstable Planning Board on February 12. If the proposal receives support from the Planning Board, the final stage will be to obtain Barnstable Town Council’s blessing.

The development would be unique for HAC in that it is a mixed-income community. The rents from the market rate units will support the development costs of the affordable units.

When complete, the Lofts at 57 will be targeted to the Cape’s workforce and is tied to the economic redevelopment of downtown Hyannis, because it is situated on an old abandoned lot with a deteriorated foundation. About 15 years ago, someone tried to build a large single-family home there and never finished it. It’s an eyesore.

In its place will be three structures, consisting of two triplexes and one duplex, that will use modular construction technology, reducing the overall time and cost needed to build them.

Instead of facing outward, the structures will all be facing a shared open space. The intention of the pocket neighborhood is to encourage interaction with neighbors and create a sense of community. We hope to build more of these projects in the coming years, using redevelopment to revitalize our village centers and to bring much-needed “attainable” housing to the region.

Tags: Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Alisa Galazzi, Housing Development, Hyannis, Lofts at 57, Ridgewood Avenue, pocket neighborhood

Editorial: Spirit of the Season

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 04:09 PM

Galazzi_HACbeat (2017).jpg

This was my first Christmas as CEO of Housing Assistance Corporation and I am awestruck by the generosity of the community towards our clients, many of whom are families in shelter and those on the edge of homelessness, struggling just to get by.

People give to Housing Assistance Corporation in all kinds of ways this time of year, from the elderly lady in Harwich who knits hats and scarves for our families to the many people who sponsor a needy family at Christmas to make sure they have gifts under the tree.

Businesses like Snow’s in Orleans, Whole Foods in Hyannis and Starbuck’s in Mashpee and Hyannis all run holiday drives for our clients, as do students and others throughout the Cape. We are so grateful for this outpouring of giving from hundreds of anonymous individuals.

One local mother whose family received Christmas gifts from one of our generous donors this year wrote this eloquent note as a thank you and I think it captures the spirit of the season:

To the Family that so graciously helped my family at Christmas time,

It’s extremely difficult to put into words how grateful I am for your generosity and care. The heartwarming feeling is completely overwhelming.

My daughters and I have been through a great deal of struggle, cold nights, hungry days, and with a lot of encouragement and support I’ve worked hard to get past those times to try and ensure that doesn’t happen again. We are still struggling a bit.

It’s very difficult to pay the rent, keep food on the table, keep a warm house, buy the warm coats, pay all the bills, support all the activities that active growing girls come with, and provide a Christmas—even if you have girls who don’t ask for much. However, when you have girls who make Honor Roll, stay positive through so much negative, show so much love and support no matter what, are grateful for all they have (and don’t have) and try their hardest (always), that makes me want to provide a Christmas that they aren’t asking for, even when I really can’t.

When I am trying 110% and still falling somewhat short, and someone else steps in to help out at this time of year, to help give my daughters a little more joy during their Christmas, it feels so wonderful.

They know the meaning of Christmas. They understand it’s not about presents under the tree, or big shiny boxes or bags or fancy labels or what you get or don’t get. It’s about who you have around you, the love you feel, what you’re able to do for others, the peace you bring, the joy you can spread, the happiness and joy that you share with others; being with family, friends, and loved ones.

Please do understand just how thankful I am for all of your help—your help and support during this time is exactly the kind of love and support that my daughters strive to give back to our community in every way they can on their own level. May all your hopes for the New Year come true.

From all of us at Housing Assistance Corporation, best wishes for the New Year.

 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, donations, Alisa Galazzi, charitable giving, holiday giving

Editorial: Housing Development Strategy

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Fri, Dec 29, 2017 @ 03:54 PM

Galazzi_HACbeat (2017).jpg

One of my priorities when I came on board at Housing Assistance Corporation last January was to review the agency’s real estate holdings and evaluate their financial viability. This evaluation, coupled with a needs assessment, will lay the foundation for HAC’s long-term housing production strategy and future planning efforts.

Over our 40 years on Cape Cod, Housing Assistance Corporation has developed 500 units of affordable housing. We have partnered with the nonprofit POAH (Preservation of Affordable Housing) on several recent projects, including the award-winning Melpet Farms rental housing complex in Dennis; Canal Bluffs 3 in Bourne, which is currently under construction; and Brewster Woods in Brewster, which is in pre-development.

HAC also owns well-regarded affordable housing rental developments, Kimber Woods and Lombard Farms, both in West Barnstable, as well as Southside Village in Hyannis.

Melpet Farm-2.jpgThe Residences at Melpet Farms in Dennis, completed in 2015. 

We also own a 40-acre site in Sandwich with one home on it, as well as three family shelters and a few apartment complexes, condominiums, duplexes and a single-family home.

Over the next year, we will have completed an evaluation of all of our assets and we will be ready to implement new initiatives.

One new idea our Housing Development Department is pursuing is the development of multi-family housing in “pocket” neighborhoods on appropriate sites that could support up to 10 one- and two-bedroom units. These small developments will replicate old-style neighborhoods with homes surrounding a community green.

Here at Housing Assistance Corporation, we want to continue to be a part of the solution to the shortage of housing in the region while continuing to help our most vulnerable residents. We will continue to explore different ways to fulfill our mission. On behalf of our clients—more than 5,300 last year on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket—thank you so much for your support of Housing Assistance Corporation during the holidays and all year-round.

Tags: Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Melpet Farm Residences, Alisa Galazzi, Canal Bluffs, POAH, Housing Development, Kimber Woods, Lombard Farms, Editorial

Editorial: Cape Housing Institute a Step Towards Progress

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 @ 11:29 AM
Cape Housing-3-1.jpgArchitect Rick Fenuccio (left), president of Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Architects, and John Bologna, CEO of Coastal Engineering, are two of the presenters who have lent their expertise to the Cape Housing Institute. 

We kicked off the inaugural Cape Housing Institute this fall and it has been great to see so many town officials take advantage of this training. For instance, Mashpee Selectman John Cotton said he does not have all the answers. That’s why he signed up for the Cape Housing Institute because he told us he has a desire to learn more. 

John is one of roughly 140 officials who are taking part in the institute for similar reasons. They understand a shortage of affordable housing is a problem on Cape Cod, and they want to find ways to address that problem through development that meets the needs of their individual communities.

There are town managers, members of community preservation committees, chairs of local housing authorities, and more, who spend two hours each week to learn about topics such as Chapter 40B, housing production plans, and zoning, to name a few, from local and regional experts in the field of law, design, housing, and development.

Speakers have included Rick Fenuccio, president of Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Architects and Laura Shufelt, assistant director of community assistance at Massachusetts Housing Partnership.

During Rick’s talk, he focused on zoning and ways community leaders can use it as a tool to shape their affordable housing strategy. “Control your own destiny or someone else will,” he said.

Laura spoke about housing production plans, at one point highlighting the importance of both education and advocacy. “Getting leaders, town officials, on board is a great first step,” she said. “Advocates can’t do it alone. We need to have collaboration with lots of folks to get it done.”

We know that solving the Cape’s housing needs will not be immediate. And it cannot be done individually. We believe the institute is a great first step; it’s been encouraging to see that there are so many who fall in line with John Cotton’s way of thinking – that education can lead to progress.

But it does not end with education. We must take what we’ve learned during the housing institute and turn it into positive action. That will require municipal leaders, developers, planners, and the public coming together to take the next steps so we can begin to achieve the type of housing that meets the needs of our community and those who contribute to it.

At the beginning of next year, we will take another step towards progress: Advocacy Training for the general public. We hope you’ll join us.

Cape Housing Institute and Advocacy Training

In the winter of 2018, HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP) in Eastham, will be launching Advocacy Training for the general public. Next year, we will also be bringing back the Cape Housing Institute for municipal officials who were unable to attend our inaugural session.

Click here to learn more about these initiatives and to stay updated on when the next training sessions will begin. 

 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, education, Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, Alisa Galazzi, Cape Housing Institute, Advocacy Training

Editorial: A Responsibility to One Another

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Thu, Nov 02, 2017 @ 12:05 PM
DSC_3522.jpgAmong the volunteers at this year's Big Fix were a number of high school students on Cape Cod. 

Every Sunday, as a child, I would go to my grandparent’s house for dinner. During those meals, they would give me a list of small chores to accomplish while I was there. 

Embedded in these chores were life lessons; it was a way of showing my love for my grandparents. Doing these tasks was also a reminder of our connection to one another and that, in large ways and small, we all have a responsibility to each other.

As my grandparents got older, their needs grew to the point where they relied on more than just small chores. When I went away to college, my cousins stepped up, making sure my grandparents were not only loved, but received the care and comfort they needed to survive.

Unfortunately, not everyone has this luxury in today’s society. Families are often scattered throughout the country and picking up the phone to have a sister, brother, son or daughter quickly help is not so simple.

Once a year at HAC, we fill this void through our Big Fix. It’s an inspiring event, one that saw 340 volunteers help 18 complete strangers last month as part of our 8th Annual Big Fix in Falmouth.

The volunteers did relatively small tasks – clearing brush, installing new kitchen tile, painting a deck – in a few hours. The work may seem minor in nature, but the homeowners we spoke to admitted there was no way they could have done this on their own.

These people included a 91-year-old World War II veteran, a disabled woman who lost her husband a few years ago, and a legally blind couple in their 80s who have been married for over 50 years. For each, it was not easy asking for help. But when they did, there was no shortage of people who eagerly volunteered their time, talents, energy and enthusiasm to provide a little care and a lot of comfort to our neighbors in Falmouth.

It was a wonderful display of kindness that exemplified the best of Cape Cod. And it was an important reminder of the connection and responsibility we have to one another.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Big Fix, Falmouth, Alisa Galazzi, Falmouth Big Fix, home repair

Editorial: Threats to HCEC Funding

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 @ 11:02 AM

Galazzi_HACbeat (2017).jpg

Since I arrived at HAC in January, I have been struck by the number of people that our agency is able to help on a daily basis. Last year alone we provided over 5,600 clients with the housing services they needed to move forward with their lives in a positive direction.

Of that number, more than 1,200 people were served through our Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC). HAC’s HCEC is one of only nine in Massachusetts, and the only one that exists for those on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Due to recent budget cuts made by Governor Charlie Baker, these nine HCECs are being threatened, which will directly impact a large number of clients we serve at HAC. These are our neighbors - teachers, plumbers, electricians, firefighters, waiters, certified nursing assistants and more - who need help, support and housing stability to remain here on Cape Cod.

At HAC, our HCEC conducts client intake, determining whether there is an internal HAC program that can assist them or we need to refer them to an outside agency. Our HCEC also assists clients with housing search, working with them to find safe, secure housing in the region; provides foreclosure and reverse mortgage counseling; and offers financial literacy workshops for low- and middle-income residents.

Maureen Fitzgerald, executive director of the Regional Housing Network, which is made up of the nine HCECs throughout the state, recently wrote that, “the HCECs continue to be one of the Commonwealth’s most effective, impactful, and far-reaching housing and homelessness prevention programs. In an environment where resources are so narrowly targeted, the Centers fill in the gaps, ensuring that the right people get to the right resources at the right time.”

The statement was made as part of a letter written in light of Governor Baker’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget which had $320 million worth of vetoes, including a $600,000 reduction in funding for HCECs statewide. This will negatively affect agencies like HAC’s HCEC which is working with individuals and families at risk of homelessness, facing eviction, and seeking to find affordable rentals.

Because of this threat, I have spent time at the State House in Boston this month, meeting with our legislators to urge them to restore both the $800,000 vetoed in Line Item 7006-0011 and the language directing support to the state’s HCECs. We must ensure that the proper state funding is in place so agencies like HAC can continue to serve these clients in an effective and efficient manner.

Tags: HCEC, Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, State budget, housing consumer education, Alisa Galazzi, Governor Charlie Baker

Editorial: Meaningful Impact of Canal Bluffs

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 @ 11:52 AM
Canal Bluffs-1.jpg

One of the highlights for me last month at HAC was the groundbreaking at Canal Bluffs, which is the third phase of what will be 117 mixed-income housing units in the Town of Bourne.

We have had a lot of cloudy and rainy days this summer, but the day of the groundbreaking dawned clear and the ceremony took place under beautiful sunny skies. It was an apt metaphor for the project which brings affordable, workforce and market-rate apartments for families and seniors in a residential community off MacArthur Boulevard in Pocasset.

The project continues the partnership that HAC has forged with POAH (Preservation of Affordable Housing) in the development and management of affordable housing throughout the Cape.

We all know about the shortage of affordable housing in the region, but Congressman Bill Keating, the keynote speaker for the event, talked about what a project like this does for the economy, not just in the short-term, in providing construction jobs, but in the long-term for the workforce who live in the homes.

We have long been working to get the word out to the community that people who live in developments like Canal Bluffs are our neighbors, friends and family. Based on recent housing lotteries HAC has conducted for rental and homeownership units throughout the region, the people who live in affordable housing work as waitresses, construction workers, dental hygienists, bookkeepers, mechanics, handymen, truck drivers, legal secretaries, plumbers, bartenders, personal trainers and teachers, to name just a few professions. They are the people who make the Cape’s economy thrive.

During the Canal Bluffs ceremony, I took the opportunity to give credit for the project to HAC’s founder and CEO Emeritus, Rick Presbrey. He had the vision and foresight to put the deal together. Over the past four decades, HAC has brought over 500 affordable units to our region.

The best part of it all is that after the third phase of Canal Bluffs is completed, 117 families get the opportunity to live here, the opportunity to come home, to put their groceries away and have a safe place to rejuvenate, where their children can launch their dreams and where families can live their lives on beautiful Cape Cod.

Click this link to learn more about the Canal Bluffs groundbreaking and what the development means to the residents that live there. 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Bourne, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, affordable housing, Alisa Galazzi, Canal Bluffs, POAH, Preservation Of Affordable Housing

Editorial: Aligning Our Goals, Strengthening Our Mission

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Fri, Jun 30, 2017 @ 04:41 PM
HAC Goals-2 Edited.pngHAC staff take part in a recent goal-setting workshop under the direction of Nathan Herschler. 

As the new CEO at HAC, my vision is to improve the agency so that it continues to be a high-performing agency that consistently delivers meaningful, measurable, and financially sustainable services to our clients.

This month, I’ve been pleased that the entire agency has gone through a multi-tiered team-building exercise focused on goals. I put together a list of seven areas for us to look at as we identify goals for the coming year: HAC’s staff; financial operations; data collection and analysis; collaboration and customer service; process improvement; program outcomes; and external evaluation.

To take the staff through the goals process, I brought in Nathan Herschler , who is the full-time director of program operations for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). At IFAW, Nathan manages the annual budgeting process, coordinates program planning, monitoring, evaluation, and overseas compliance with government funding.

Having an outsider with his level of expertise analyze HAC’s work is an invaluable tool that will lead to internal efficiencies which will ultimately benefit HAC’s clients.

Nathan volunteered his time—more than 50 hours!—to help HAC staff draw up goals in the seven areas.

How did we get free help from such a highly qualified individual? In Nathan’s own words, he said he wanted to help because, “HAC is such an important part of the community. I wanted to do whatever I could to support the team and its mission.”

Nathan led short sessions with each department to look at their strengths and the challenges they face. The sessions also took this review a step further by evaluating the agency as a whole.

Nathan explained his work with HAC this way: “This goal-setting exercise is just part of an iterative planning, action, and learning process aimed at continuously improving the services provided by HAC. In the end, all nonprofits are looking to maximize the amount of quality program service they can deliver to their stakeholders. Good planning leads to effective action which leads to impact for those HAC serves.”

Each department presented their goals at an all-staff meeting on June 22. Those goals will be used to to measure our impact, build upon strengths, and mitigate challenges over the course of the next fiscal year.

Through this important undertaking, we are strengthening and building resources so that HAC will continue to thrive and serve our community.

Tags: strategic planning, Alisa Galazzi, team building, HAC Goals

Editorial: Working with our Legislators to Tackle the Cape's Housing Challenges

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Tue, May 16, 2017 @ 10:50 AM

Julian-3.jpgState Senator Julian Cyr (second from left) with HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi (from left), Director of Leased Housing Cindi Maule, Director of Family and Individual Services Cassi Danzl and Chief Operating Officer Walter Phinney. 

I have been spending my first few months as CEO of HAC getting to know the leaders in our community. It has been particularly gratifying to meet members of our legislative delegation and to learn of their passion to help all the residents of our region.

When State Senator Julian Cyr stopped by HAC’s offices recently, he said housing has been one of the main issues at the forefront of his constituents’ minds.

During his visit, Senator Cyr told us, “Housing and access to housing that is affordable is a top issue for us on Cape Cod, on Martha’s Vineyard and on Nantucket. Our real estate market is so aggressive here that most anyone who is a middle-income wage earner, including working families, is struggling to make it here… We really need to have housing that meets our needs.”

Meeting the needs of those in the region when it comes to affordable housing has always been a major focus for HAC and it will continue to be so in the coming years.

I was pleased to learn that even prior to becoming a State Senator in November, Senator Cyr said, he has long admired HAC’s work on the Cape and Islands. “HAC is just one of those organizations that is a real pillar of the community. HAC has been doing work for generations to make sure our most vulnerable have housing.”

After taking a tour of HAC’s offices and meeting the staff on the front lines of delivering housing services for HAC, the Senator gave his impressions of the meeting. “I was just really impressed with the scale and scope of how HAC helps people realize housing on Cape Cod and the Islands, from the most vulnerable people who are homeless living in the streets to helping people improve the energy efficiency of their homes. I have a renewed appreciation for how much HAC does.”

We’re looking forward to partnering with Senator Cyr and the rest of the Cape and Islands delegation on strategic regional issues, and having our voice and mission loudly and clearly represented at the State House.

It is through these partnerships between HAC, our legislators and other leaders in the community, that we can add more resources for our clients and do more to help them succeed.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, homelessness, State budget, Alisa Galazzi, Julian Cyr

Editorial: How Federal Budget Cuts Could Impact Your Neighbors

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 @ 02:00 PM

Galazzi_Website (2017).jpg

President Trump’s proposed $7 billion budget cuts to affordable housing, community development and social services programs appear to take a direct hit on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens: the elderly, the disabled, and the homeless, including those on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

In this region, as in many other parts of the country, wages have not kept up with cost of living increases. In addition, the Cape’s high rents and home prices, driven up by second homeowners and resort factors, continue to be out of reach for working year-rounders. HAC’s programs funded through HUD dollars are the foundation for economic mobility and stability in our community.

All told about 1,250 of HAC’s clients on the Cape and Islands could be affected if all the President’s recommended cuts take place. These programs bring $11 million annually from the federal government through HAC and into the Cape’s economy through rents and other assistance.

At Housing Assistance Corporation, we know the local stories behind the funding. We know how the assistance that flows from the federal government to our friends and neighbors here helps the neediest among us. It is not an exaggeration to say that these programs save lives.

HAC’s largest program is our Section 8 Housing program, which currently houses more than 1,000 families across the Cape and Islands. Recent news from HUD indicates that thousands of vouchers may be eliminated for low-income working families, seniors and people with disabilities. Besides pumping $750,000 per month into the Cape Cod economy through rents, HAC’s Section 8 program allows working families to stay on Cape Cod.

One of those with a voucher is Amy, a disabled senior who grew up on Cape Cod, but was unable to afford to live here. Because of her voucher, she has been able to stay on Cape Cod, work and raise her family in the town where her parents, grandparents, and great grandparents once lived.

One of our signature programs that is funded through HUD is HAC’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program that enables families to move off of government assistance and to self-sufficiency. A recent graduate of HAC’s Self-Sufficiency program, a single mom named Lisa who has three kids in Barnstable Schools, used the program to help her gain the necessary skills to move up in her job and budget more efficiently. At the end of the program, she is putting a down payment on her first home. That is how this program changes lives.

HAC is joining with other Community Development Corporations throughout the state and the country to urge congressional leaders to continue to support these valuable programs and, especially, the people that these programs serve.

Tags: Section 8, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Family Self Sufficiency, affordable housing, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Budget