Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Chris Kazarian

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New Director Brings Expertise and Passion to Carriage House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 @ 05:40 PM
Mindy Caron-1.jpgMindy Caron in front of HAC's Carriage House family shelter in North Falmouth. 

I love the opportunity to help as many people as possible turn their lives around,” Mindy Caron said last month at HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth. Caron is helping HAC’s clients do exactly that as Carriage House’s new facility director.

Caron, who was hired at HAC two years ago, initially served as the family therapist at Angel House in Hyannis, which supports mothers overcoming addiction and their children. Last fall, she transferred to HAC’s main office where she assisted the agency in redesigning its intake and referral process.

At the end of January, she was promoted to her current position at Carriage House, which assists mothers and their children. The shelter, which typically caters to younger, first-time mothers, has the capacity to house 10 families at any one time.

While the primary goal at Carriage House is to provide housing to keep families safe, Caron said, the shelter supports each mother by giving them the tools, resources and support so they will hopefully never have to return to shelter again.

Her aim with each client is to get them to establish a goal and have them take steps to achieve it. “People who come here have come out of such a crisis that they have often never stopped to question, ‘What do I really want? Where do I want to be in this world?’” Caron said. “We begin asking these questions so these women have a dream because that is the most motivating thing they can have.”

Carriage House offers a number of services that allow clients to work towards such goals. It starts with hands-on case management, Caron said, but also includes assisting with resume writing and accessing jobs; improving their parenting skills; budgeting; and finding housing.

Through its Playspace Program, Horizons for Homeless Children offers playtime opportunities for the younger ones at Carriage House.

Caron, who moved to Cape Cod from Indiana three years ago to be closer to family, was pleased to have found an agency like HAC where she can use her previous social service expertise as a counselor, executive director, and chief operations officer, to benefit our clients. “I love it here, I really do,” she said. “I consider HAC to be a fine organization with stellar goals which are really, really needed on the Cape.”

Support HAC's Family Shelters

Tags: Family Shelter, Carriage House, Angel House, shelter, Horizons for Homeless Children, Falmouth, Mindy Caron

HAC's Annual Dinner Celebrates Those Making a Difference

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Mar 09, 2018 @ 03:38 PM
Home Depot-1.jpgThe 2017 Home Depot Big Fix team. HAC is honoring Home Depot with the Making a Difference Award at its Annual Dinner in May. 

HAC’s 44th Annual Dinner & Volunteer Recognition in May will have a decided Big Fix slant to it.  

Three of this year’s award winners have been heavily involved in the annual day of service in which HAC mobilizes over 200 volunteers to fundraise for the agency and to volunteer their time to make small home improvements for seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners in one town on Cape Cod every fall.

The Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub, the recipient of the 2018 Business Partner Award; Mashpee Boy Scout Troop 36, the recipient of the Human Service Partner Award; and Home Depot, the recipient of the Making a Difference Award, all have lent their support to the Big Fix over the years.

Also being honored are Bernadette and Richard Waystack of Harwich, who have been chosen for the Volunteer of the Year Award. Since 2014, the couple have participated in the annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk, walking one end of the Cape to the other over the course of one week each July, to raise funds for HAC’s housing programs.

The pair were humbled by the honor, saying it is a “reminder to us of all the hard work so many people have done for decades to raise awareness and support for homelessness and housing insecurity on the Cape. We have just been two small cogs in the wheels carrying on and joining the fight in the best way we could.”

99 Restaurant-2.jpg99 Restaurant & Pub staff cook burgers and hot dogs for Big Fix volunteers in Brewster.  The local restaurant is being recognized for its support of HAC with the Business Partner of the Year Award. 

Since 2013, when HAC brought its Big Fix to Mashpee, Jim Kiley, the regional vice president at the 99 Restaurant & Pub, has generously donated his staff’s time and talents to cook lunch for the hundreds of volunteers who show up to the event.

Those volunteers have annually included Troop 36, which also started its involvement in the Big Fix that same year.

Assistant Scout Master John Cotton said the event is always among the most popular for those in the troop, which includes his son Christian. “It’s a rewarding feeling every time when we complete the project because the individuals we’re helping come out and tell us what it meant to them,” John said. “When you have 20 kids listening to [the homeowner] and no one is talking, you can see it in their faces. They are all choked up. It is intense and it is amazing.”

Home Depot is another organization that has lent its support to the Big Fix with employees from several of its Southeastern Massachusetts stores volunteering for the event. Last year, the Home Depot Foundation took that support a step further when it provided HAC with a $22,000 grant that went towards supplies for the Big Fix in Falmouth.

In addition to its involvement in the Big Fix, the Home Depot’s Hyannis store has served as a stepping stone for clients at HAC’s Angel House shelter to move forward in a positive direction. Several of the mothers who are recovering from substance abuse at the shelter have been hired at the store, giving them the confidence they need to help turn their lives around.

44th Annual Dinner & Volunteer Recognition

When: Thursday, May 3, 5-7:30 pm

Where: Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannnis

Cost: $20 per person (free for all 2017 volunteers)

Register for HAC's Annual Dinner

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, HAC Volunteer Recognition, Annual Meeting, Richard Waystack, Bernadette Waystack, HAC Volunteers, volunteer, 99 Restaurant, John Cotton, Annual Dinner, Mashpee Boy Scouts, Home Depot

Cape Advocacy Training Inspires Public to Get Involved Locally

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Mar 09, 2018 @ 02:48 PM
Housing Advocacy3-1.jpgHAC Board President Mark Forest (from left), Barnstable Town Councilor Paula Schnepp, and Barnstable Housing Committee member Hilda Haye lead a Cape Housing Advocacy Training session last month. 

Just how bad is the housing situation on Cape Cod and the Islands? Yarmouth Selectman Mark Forest, the chair of HAC’s Board of Directors, termed it a crisis. Forest spoke during Cape Housing Advocacy Training held at Shepley Showcase in Hyannis last month.

Solving that crisis, he said, cannot be done at the federal or state level. “It really today is coming to be a local issue,” he told those in attendance. “We have to deal with this on our watch. And if we don’t, the Cape is going to continue to change in ways that are incredibly dramatic and it will be unlike the kind of Cape Cod that we have grown quite fond of.”

Since last year, HAC has worked with Community Development Partnership (CDP) in Eastham to support communities throughout the Cape in addressing their housing challenges. It started last fall with the Cape Housing Institute, aimed at municipal officials, and expanded last month to Cape Housing Advocacy Training, aimed at the general public.

With workshops so far held on the Mid-Cape, Lower Cape and Outer Cape, advocacy training has been geared to giving residents the tools, resources, support and motivation to speak up in favor of affordable housing projects in their towns. A total of 70 residents have taken part in the sessions with another 40 set to do so on the Upper Cape in Falmouth this month.

Housing Advocacy3-2.jpgBarnstable Housing Committee member Hilda Haye encourage participants in HAC's Cape Housing Advocacy Training to be more active in their community. 

The Mid-Cape workshop began with Paula Hersey, the director of outreach and special projects at Cape Cod Community Media Center, sharing her story about struggling to find housing with her husband in the late 1980s. “We lived above a heroin dealer,” she said. “We moved six times in three years… We ate a lot of Ramen, couch surfed, and lived in unfinished basements. It has not been easy.”

Eventually, they were able to find a place, becoming one of the first homeowners in a Chapter 40B development in Marstons Mills. By telling her story, Hersey said, she hoped to “remove the stigma associated” with affordable housing.

A significant piece of advocacy training was focused on just that – getting residents to speak up at public meetings about why affordable housing is important to them.

Barnstable Town Councilor Paula Schnepp, another speaker, said doing so can make a difference. “It really is helpful that your voice is heard,” she said.

Barnstable Housing Committee member Hilda Haye, also a speaker at the training, said, “it is time for us all to get involved… This is our community that we live in and we need to do something… We all need to play our part.” It is this type of activism that Mark Forest said can make a real difference when it comes to affordable housing. “The reality is that what we do in our towns… is critical in terms of making any real progress,” he said.

To stay up to date on upcoming Cape Housing Advocacy Training sessions, click this link


Tags: Shepley Wood Products, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, affordable housing, Mark Forest, Cape Housing Institute, Community Development Partnership, Cape Community Housing Partnership, Paula Schnepp, Advocacy Training, Hilda Haye, Cape Housing Advocacy Training

Osterville Church Gives Back to Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Mar 08, 2018 @ 05:25 PM
DSC_9655-1.jpgMary Beebe (from left), Anne Minor and Robert Bartholomay recently helped paint one of the rooms at Angel House as a way to give back to our clients. 

On the last Thursday in January, staff at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis held a graduation ceremony for 30-year-old Samantha, who had been at the shelter with her six-month-old son for a year, recovering from the dual traumas of homelessness and addiction. 

By the next day, Samantha had moved out of the shelter and four volunteers from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Osterville – Mary and Will Beebe, Robert Bartholomay and Anne Minor – were busy giving her former room a much-needed facelift before the next client arrived on Monday.

Over the course of two days the group painted the room as a way to give back to those in need. While the church’s members donate food to HAC’s Scattered Sites shelter on a monthly basis, this was their first time at Angel House.

In between paint strokes, the group spoke about the importance of this type of work. “It makes you feel good when you help somebody,” Robert said.

“Any time you do something good, it matters,” Mary added.

Tags: Family Shelter, Community Service, Angel House, charitable giving, St. Peter's Episcopal Church

Donor Spotlight: Carolyn Crowell 

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 @ 02:41 PM
Carolyn Crowell-1.jpgCarolyn Crowell knitting at her home in Sandwich. Over the years, her handmade mittens have made their way onto the hands of clients in our family shelters. 

This past October, Carolyn Crowell celebrated her 91st birthday. When asked what the secret is to a long, healthy, happy life, she said, “keep active for as long as you can.”

Despite the aches and pains that come with old age, Crowell has been able to do exactly that. She is a voracious reader. She is on the Board of Directors for Camp Farley; sits on the Sandwich Historical Commission; and clips news articles for the Town of Sandwich archives.

This January, Crowell stepped down as a volunteer at Plimouth Plantation where she initially portrayed the role of Elizabeth Warren, a Pilgrim from the 1600s, before taking a behind-the-scenes role, knitting costumes and other garments in the wardrobe department.

Crowell still continues to knit, primarily mittens which she regularly makes for the Unitarian Church of Barnstable’s annual craft fair. She has donated some of her mittens to HAC where they have made their way onto the hands of clients at Angel House in Hyannis and Carriage House in North Falmouth.

The two shelters both serve mothers and their children; Angel House’s adult clients are all overcoming addiction.

Crowell was proud of the fact that her handmade creations have been able to provide some much-needed warmth to HAC clients that are most in need. And she had high praise for HAC staff who work with this population who have all been homeless. “You’ve got to have a special skill to work with those people to convince them there is a chance things will get better,” she said.

Crowell, who has witnessed HAC grow in size, scope and stature over the three decades she has supported the agency, was impressed with the agency’s development over the years. “What struck me is the diversity of housing-related activities and the staff members who were acquainted with and can help everyone from the homeless to low-income residents to people trying to buy a home,” she said. “I’m sure when [HAC founder] Rick [Presbrey] started this, he never dreamed it would ever get to be this big, but it kept going and going.”

That growth may be the result of the need that exists here on the Cape. “The cost of housing on the Cape is quite expensive, especially where so much of our economy is based on tourism and so much of our service-related jobs don’t pay that well,” she said. “Therefore, we have many people who haven’t had the money or the good job to afford to buy a house. So they have to make do with substandard housing.”

Because of the difficulties facing many Cape Codders, Crowell understands supporting an agency like HAC is crucial to addressing the region’s housing issues.

Why I Give: Carolyn Crowell 

In 1923, newlyweds David and Dorothy Crowell celebrated their marriage by purchasing Crow Farm in Sandwich, building a home on the 45-acre property where they raised their three children, Howard, Carolyn and Eleanor.

That home still stands today and is owned by the Crowell’s middle child, Carolyn, who was born three years after it was built. At 91, she has lived the majority of her life there, first as a child and then when she returned home in 1978 after stints off-Cape in New Hampshire, Michigan, and New Jersey where she worked primarily as a 4-H county extension agent.

Her home – its longevity and the stability it has provided in her life – may be one reason why Crowell has been such a longtime, passionate supporter of HAC. Over the past three decades, she has been an annual donor to HAC and served as a volunteer, helping with everything from mailings to serving on an advisory committee for one of HAC’s properties.

She explained her commitment to HAC in this way: “Organizations like HAC can do things I can’t do that need to be done. I can help other people who have the expertise and inspiration to carry on.”

Please Donate

Tags: Philanthropy, Carriage House, Angel House, charitable giving, HAC donors, Donor Spotlight, Carolyn Crowell, knitting, Sandwich

St. Pius Students Knit Blankets for HAC Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Feb 21, 2018 @ 02:23 PM
St. Pius Martin Family.jpgHAC's Mary LeClair (from left) with Maeve, Effie and Beatrice Martin. Maeve and her fellow St. Pius X classmates knit over 60 blankets for our clients in need. 

Every November, middle school students at St. Pius X School in Yarmouth try to better understand the plight of the homeless by spending a portion of one evening inside cardboard boxes set up in the gym.

This year, roughly 40 students turned that understanding into action by also knitting over 60 homemade blankets that will be given to HAC clients in shelter. Last month, St. Pius X eighth grader Maeve Martin, 13, dropped off those blankets with her mother, Katie Martin, and her two sisters Effie, 11, and Beatrice, 5.

“I like that we were able to do something nice for others,” Maeve said.

Her mother said the school project was rewarding because it taught children the importance of helping others. “It’s amazing how happy the kids felt helping someone else and stepping outside of themselves,” she said.

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Family Shelter, homelessness, shelter, St. Pius X School, Mary LeClair, blankets

HAC Assists Falmouth Veteran

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sat, Feb 17, 2018 @ 06:00 AM
John Martin-2.jpgHAC Event and Resource Development Coordinator Deanna Bussiere (from left) with Army veteran John Martin, Falmoth Toyota General Manager Matt Murphy, and Heroes In Transition Executive Director Nicole Spencer. 

"Since September, all that you’ve done for me, it’s like I hit the jackpot, you know,” John Martin said on the last day of January when HAC, Heroes In Transition and Falmouth Toyota came together to give him a used Toyota Camry.

Last fall, HAC was introduced to Martin through the Falmouth Big Fix. An Army veteran, he was one of 18 recipients of the day of service which saw over 340 volunteers come out to make small home improvements for their neighbors in need.

It was through the event that Keith Trott, HAC’s maintenance supervisor, realized that Martin’s Toyota RAV4 was inoperable, and the cost to fix it was beyond his means. Because Martin suffers from respiratory issues and needs transportation to get to and from his medical appointments, Trott said, finding him a new car was the right thing to do.

Together with HAC, Heroes In Transition, which covers the cost of improvements for veterans’ homes during the Big Fix, agreed to fund the purchase of the used car.

Finding the car was left to Falmouth Toyota General Manager Matt Murphy and his staff. While his company strives to be as charitable as it can, Murphy said, it truly appreciates moments like this when it can “drill that down to one individual and do something that’s hopefully special for someone on an individual basis. It’s not something we can do all the time, but when we do it’s really nice to see.”

Read more about last year's Falmouth Big Fix by clicking this link

Tags: Deanna Bussiere, Big Fix, Heroes in Transition, Falmouth, Falmouth Big Fix, veterans, Nicole Spencer, John Martin, Keith Trott, Falmouth Toyota, Matt Murphy

HAC Energy Assessments in High Demand

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 @ 10:36 AM
HAC Energy-1.jpgThe HAC Energy team includes Jim Ames (from left), Suzanne Smith, Jo Ann Cournoyer and Ruth Bechtold.

Typically on Cape Cod this is a slow time of year, but don’t tell that to HAC’s Energy Department which is busier than ever. “We are in high demand,” Suzanne Smith, HAC Energy’s intake/outreach coordinator, said.

Smith and Ruth Bechtold, who manages the Energy Department, attributed that demand to the frigid temperatures which have left its mark on the Cape this winter. Because of the weather, residents are looking for ways to keep their home warmer and reduce their energy costs.

Working with Cape Light Compact, HAC offers free energy assessments throughout the year to low-income residents living in single-family and multi-family homes on Cape Cod and the Islands, as well as Wareham. Those who receive fuel assistance or are eligible to receive fuel assistance or discounted utility rates can qualify for a HAC energy assessment.

HAC’s energy auditors, Jim Ames and Joshua Trott, conduct the assessments, which include replacing all inefficient light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs and checking refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioning units, dehumidifiers, and washing machines to determine if they are eligible for replacement.

As part of the assessment, they will inspect a home’s heating system to see whether it should be repaired or replaced. In some instances those services can be performed through HAC’s HEARTWAP (Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program).

The auditors also look at whether a home can benefit from insulation and air sealing which “seals up all the air pathways,” Smith said.

“If all air leaks are not sealed, it can be like having an open window in your house,” Bechtold explained. “Sealing all those cracks makes sure no warm, humid air escapes into the attic where it can create moisture issues.”

HAC’s weatherization measures can also include the installation of vents which allows an attic to properly breathe and helps to minimize issues with moisture that can lead to mold.

Both Smith and Bechtold agreed that the work HAC’s Energy Department does is not only important, but rewarding.

“We’re helping people save money, save energy and increase the overall comfort of the home, and in doing so we’re also staying true to what the agency’s values are,” Smith said. “We really enjoy and get a lot of satisfaction out of helping those who need our services the most.”

Schedule an Energy Assessment Today

You can schedule an energy assessment by calling Cape Light Compact at 800-797-6699. 

HAC Energy provides no cost energy assessments and weatherization measures to income-eligible homeowners and renters. If you receive fuel assistance or a discounted utility rate, or you are income-eligible for fuel assistance, you will receive these services through HAC. 

Tags: Energy Assessments, Cape Light Compact, HAC Energy, saving energy, Energy Audit, Weatherization, Ruth Bechtold, Suzanne Smith, Jim Ames, Joshua Trott, energy efficiency

Annual Dinner to Honor Those Making Impact on the Cape

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 09, 2018 @ 01:57 PM

HAC Annual Dinner Photo (February 9, 2018).jpg

HAC’s 44th Annual Dinner & Volunteer Recognition will be held on Thursday, May 3, from 5 to 7:30 PM, at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis. 

The event, which is being sponsored by Shepley Wood Products will honor individuals, businesses, and organizations making an impact in the community.

It is also a way for HAC to honor its volunteers who support the agency in a number of ways, from cooking meals at the agency’s family shelters to assisting with mailings to driving shelter clients to and from appointments to serving as childcare assistants in our shelters.

“The event is a special time for us to recognize our wonderful volunteers who give so much to our clients and staff throughout the year,” HAC’s Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin said. 

The theme of this year’s Annual Dinner is “Doing Great Things Together” and HAC will be using that concept in handing out the following awards: Volunteer of the Year; Business Partner; Human Service Partner; and the Making a Difference Award. HAC will be announcing award recipients later this month.

The Annual Dinner is free for all 2017 volunteers. There is a $20 entry fee for all other attendees.

Registration for the Annual Dinner will be available online at HAConCapeCod.org
starting Thursday, February 22. Click this link to read about last year's Annual Meeting. 

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, Annual Meeting, Mary Everett Patriquin, volunteer, Annual Dinner

HAC Supports Homeless During Arctic Blast

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Feb 08, 2018 @ 05:24 PM
Derick Bussiere-Edited (2718).jpgHomeless Outreach Specialist Derick Bussiere was one of four HAC staffers to assist the region’s homeless during last month’s stretch of frigid temperatures. 

The start of the new year brought with it one of the longest stretches of sub-freezing weather Cape Cod has seen in recent years. While many were able to retreat safely into the comfort of their own homes, there were some in the region who did not have that luxury.

Understanding the danger facing the Cape’s homeless, HAC lent its expertise and resources to a regional effort to get these individuals off the street and into temporary housing. “This was a result of the community, social service agencies, and the town coming together within probably a 24- to 48-hour window and putting together a plan so it would run as smoothly as possible,” HAC Homeless Outreach Specialist Derick Bussiere said. “It was really about life and death.”

The plan involved HAC and several social service agencies – Vinfen, Duffy Health Center, St. Joseph’s House, and the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod – working closely with the Barnstable Police Department, the Town of Barnstable, and local churches to identify homeless individuals on the streets and woods of Cape Cod and moving them into area motels.

Funding for the temporary motel stays was provided by the Barnstable Police Department as well as Duffy Health Center’s In From the Streets, a program started in 2005 to support the homeless.

"It was more than likely people would have died. It was that cold out."

- Ann Marie Peters

HAC’s Homeless Outreach team, which includes Bussiere, Deborah McDonnell and Shannon Tracy, were joined by HAC Assistant Director of Family and Individuals Services Ann Marie Peters in conducting assessments and outreach to homeless individuals staying in hotels. They also provided transportation for the homeless to get to the hotels. 

Bussiere estimated that over 30 homeless individuals were placed in area motels, some for as long as 10 days, to keep them safe from the arctic temperatures. 

Last month’s weather, Bussiere said, enabled HAC staff to reconnect with some of the region’s chronic homeless who are typically harder to reach. “It does bring some of them out of the woodwork where we as outreach workers are able to try and engage with the individuals at that time they’re in the hotel or shelter,” he said. “After the weather gets nicer, they may disappear, but at least we’re able to make contact and put a name to a face and start building a relationship for when the individual is ready to try and get services.” 

The most important aspect of the community effort, Peters said, is that everyone had access to safe, secure housing, even if it was temporary. “What would have happened had this group not coordinated services for this population?” she asked. “It is more than likely people would have died. It was that cold out. It was well below freezing and there were many people who would have passed away because they didn’t have adequate shelter.” 

In the spring, HAC will join the community groups and agencies involved in last month’s response to identify a long-term plan moving forward.

Support HAC's Homeless Outreach Efforts

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, homelessness, Derick Bussiere, winter, Deborah McDonnell, homeless outreach, Barnstable CCIT, Shannon Tracy, Ann Marie Peters