Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Alisa Galazzi

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Editorial: Making an Impact Through Giving

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 @ 05:14 PM
Girl Scouts-2Troop leaders Dawn Dinnan (left) and Jen Tolley (right) were joined by scouts Phoebe Pressman (from left), Madison Westover, Maddie Vlacich, Bari-Lynn Santos, Carly Dinnan and Cassandra Wells in delivering cookies.

At Housing Assistance Corporation, we see generosity from people of all ages throughout the Cape. The following act of kindness by a local Girl Scout troop for clients at our Angel House shelter is just one example of neighbors helping neighbors.

No matter what you give, every time you give, it makes an impact on our clients, and that is important.

Girl Scouts Deliver Cookies to Angel House

A plastic bin full of Girl Scout cookies sat a few feet away from Jamillah, a mother who has been at Angel House since November.

“It gives me sense of hope that there’s still good people out there, people who recognize that we matter,” Jamillah said of the cookies which were donated to Angel House clients at the end of last month by Junior Girl Scout Troop 68033 of Dennis and Yarmouth. “By acknowledging us, it gives us a sense of belonging.”

From January through May of this year, the troop offered the public an opportunity to purchase cookies, not only for themselves, but for clients at Angel House, a Hyannis shelter which serves mothers recovering from substance abuse and their children.

Girl Scouts-1

Troop leader Jen Tolley said these types of community service projects are a vital part of the group’s activities. “I think it’s important just so they know they are a part of something that is bigger than themselves,” she said. “And this helps them recognize that kindness is something that goes two ways.”

During their visit to Angel House, the scouts had an opportunity to learn about the shelter, asking questions to Support Staff Sarah Caldwell, and also interacting with clients who are benefitting from the program.

Shauni, who has been at the shelter for four months, said Angel House has “stabilized my life, helped me stay clean and helped me reunite with my son.”

She reflected on the generosity of the scouts, echoing the sentiments of the other mothers staying there: “It is nice to have people outside of here think of us.”

Donate to HAC Today

Tags: Family Shelter, Angel House, giving, Alisa Galazzi, charitable giving, Girl Scouts

Editorial: A Need for Rental Housing

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Tue, Jul 03, 2018 @ 03:37 PM

 

House For Rent Photo-1

We’re all concerned about maintaining the vibrancy of our local community and economy. The lack of year-round rentals in the region is having a dire effect on the Cape and Islands, an issue reinforced by the Cape Cod Commission’s recent Regional Housing Market Analysis. The problem is only going to get worse. By 2025, the report forecasts the Cape’s housing unit gap will be more than 33,000 homes.

“Cape Cod’s housing supply is heavily skewed towards single family homeownership, resulting in a historically narrow supply of rental housing in our market,” said Cape Cod Commission Affordable Housing Specialist Heather Harper. “Nationally, 30% of the housing is supplied by the rental market. On Cape Cod, we are below the national average with less than 20% of stock provided as rentals.”

Many in our region are working on this problem. At HAC, we are developing rental units; promoting accessory apartments as a zoning change; and holding workshops at our Cape Housing Institute and Advocacy Training with our partner Community Development Partnership.

Another solution is to convert seasonal rentals to year-round use. According to the commission, roughly 58,500 of the Cape’s nearly 160,000 homes are used seasonally. If we can convert some these to year-round use, it will be a step forward to solving the Cape’s lack of rentals.

Unfortunately, this won’t be easy. Realtor Margo Pisacano, owner of Margo & Company, said today’s real estate market is encouraging landlords to sell rather than rent when leases terminate, only serving to exacerbate the problem.

Pisacano has been in the real estate industry since 1992 on Cape Cod, calling recent years “the worst housing shortage I have seen.”

HAC Can Help

Addressing the Cape’s lack of rentals is so important that we at HAC are willing to walk homeowners and investors through the process of converting a seasonal rental into an affordable unit.

We are not naïve about this multi-faceted problem. It is complicated by our seasonal economy and low wages which negatively affect the ability of Cape Codders to afford a rental. Additionally, wealth earned off-Cape allows people to pay exorbitant prices to buy houses on Cape which artificially raises the cost to both purchase a home and rent one.

High prices are forcing our year-rounder workforce out of the market and will eventually force them off Cape Cod. This will have a negative impact on employers. As Matthew Cole, CEO of Cape Associates, said, “the available pool of workers suffers as a result of a lack of housing.”

Using our existing inventory for more year-round rentals makes financial sense for the community, for property owners, for businesses, and the local economy. There is a perception that short-term rentals are more lucrative, but our research shows this is not the case. If you are interested in renting your property to a year-round renter, call me today at 508-771-5400 ext. 225 and we can help you get started.

Tags: year round rentals, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, affordable housing, rental housing, Housing Development, Cape Cod Commission, Heather Harper, Cape Associates

Editorial: Helping People Helps the Economy

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 @ 09:51 AM

HAC's Economic Impact Photo.jpg

When we think about all we do at Housing Assistance Corporation to help people, from homeless outreach to sheltering families, homeless prevention and first-time homebuyer counseling, among our many programs, we can sometimes forget about the beneficial economic impact to the Cape Cod regional community of not just Housing Assistance Corporation, but also other local nonprofits.

Housing Assistance Corporation is one of the largest human service agencies on Cape Cod, and our positive impact on the local economy on Cape Cod is significant.

In our most recent count, the 105 full- and part-time jobs at HAC resulted in $6.7 million in salaries to Cape Codders. In addition, HAC’s contracted services resulted in 74 jobs and $11.8 million in spending. Using a standard multiplier formula to determine the economic impact of our agency on Barnstable County —adding the employee spending and the vendor and contractor spending—results in a grand total of $28.4 million dollars in impact plus 274 jobs created through HAC’s presence on Cape Cod.

We are helping people to live in safe, secure housing, and we are also helping landlords. As the largest supplier of rental vouchers in the region, with more than 1,200 vouchers, our leased housing program generates $750,000 per month in government funds to local landlords in rents. Of that total, $219,000 per month is paid for 328 rental units in the town of Barnstable—a total of $2.6 million annually in federal funds that are passed through HAC to the town of Barnstable.

Our impact to the town of Barnstable and the village of Hyannis, where our headquarters is located, has a positive impact on the community. Of the approximately 5,300 clients that we help every year, about one-sixth are town of Barnstable residents, for a total of 888 individuals and families assisted in the Town of Barnstable last year.
Taking a close look at that figure through some of our larger programs, the impact to the townspeople of Barnstable is quantifiable. For instance, our homeownership assistance program, which includes foreclosure prevention counseling, assisted 260 Barnstable residents.

Our homeless prevention program assisted 117 individuals and families in the town of Barnstable to prevent them from falling into homelessness.

Our energy, weatherization and home repair program assisted 183 low-income homeowners in the town of Barnstable to stay comfortable in their homes and save money on heating and cooling.

We are currently in pre-development on a housing project that I wrote about in this column last month. The project will bring $1.6 million in investment to an economically challenged corner of Hyannis.

As CEO of Housing Assistance Corporation, I am so proud of the impactful work we do to help people throughout Cape Cod. This is our social imperative. One benefit of having a nonprofit mission is that we reinvest money into the community. I am equally proud of the important role that we play in driving the local economy in the town of Barnstable and in the region.

Tags: Section 8, homeless prevention, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Economic Impact, Alisa Galazzi, Housing Development, affordable homeownership, foreclosure prevention, job creation

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