Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Chris Kazarian

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New Outreach Specialist Dedicated to Helping Cape's Homeless

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 @ 04:32 PM
Shannon Tracy-1.jpgHAC’s new outreach specialist Shannon Tracy with her colleague Deborah McDonnel’s dog Ida. Tracy moved to Cape Cod in September.

Working with the homeless can be challenging, but HAC’s newest outreach specialist Shannon Tracy understands those difficulties are far outweighed by the positives. “Knowing you can at least assist them on the next step of their journey is the rewarding part of it,” she said.

Hired in October, Tracy may be a relative newcomer to Cape Cod, but she has extensive experience working with vulnerable populations. Since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from SUNY Old Westbury in 2010, she has worked with the homeless, helping find permanent housing for clients at Penates, an emergency shelter on Long Island, New York.

“I was always interested in helping people,” Tracy explained of why she became a social worker. “I started as a shelter worker to get my feet wet and enjoyed working with the population.”

What she has discovered over the past seven years is that homelessness “doesn’t discriminate… I think that is a major misconception. People don’t think it can happen to them when it can really happen to anyone.”

Cassi Danzl, HAC’s director of family and individuals services, said Tracy has a perfect skillset to effectively work with at-risk populations.

She has brought those skills to HAC where she is one of three staff – Derick Bussiere and Deborah McDonnell are the others - that conduct outreach with the homeless living in the streets and woods of Cape Cod. She works closely with several local agencies, including Duffy Health Center, Vinfen, Homeless Not Hopeless, and CHAMP Homes, to ensure the region’s homeless have access to the services they need to move into stable housing.

Housing, Tracy said, is the key component that can enable homeless individuals to turn their lives around. “I think it gives them a sense of purpose and independence, and provides them the stability to move onto their next goals,” she said.

Support HAC's Homeless Outreach Efforts

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless, Derick Bussiere, Deborah McDonnell, Family and Individual Services Department, homeless outreach, Cassi Danzl, Shannon Tracy

Cape Housing Institute Graduates Over 100 Town Officials

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 @ 03:24 PM
Cape Housing Institute-2017.jpgAt the conclusion of the Cape Housing Institute, each participant received a Certificate of Completion. Tobin Wirt, a member of the Sandwich Housing Authority, and Charlotte Harris of the Falmouth Planning Board, proudly hold up theirs.

In the midst of the inaugural Cape Housing Institute, speaker Laura Shufelt of Massachusetts Housing Partnership said when it comes to developing affordable housing, “getting leaders, town officials, on board is a great first step.”

Over the course of six weeks this fall, HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP) in Eastham took that first step, providing a foundation for municipal officials to better understand affordable housing and a roadmap for developing the types of housing needed on Cape Cod.

Roughly 140 appointed and elected officials from each of the 15 municipalities on Cape Cod took part in the institute aimed at tackling the region’s housing challenges. Shufelt was one of 11 presenters representing a broad range of expertise, from law to design to planning, that offered their insight and guidance to participants.

On the final night of the institute, participants broke up into small groups by town to identify where their communities were at and what needs to happen next to move affordable housing forward in a positive direction.

For HAC and CDP that next step is Advocacy Training which will begin early next year and is open to all residents who are interested in advocating for affordable housing so those of all income levels can continue to live here.

To learn more about Advocacy Training and stay updated on when and where sessions will take place visit www.capehousinginstitute.org

 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Housing Development, Cape Housing Institute, Community Development Partnership, Cape Community Housing Partnership, Tobin Wirt, Charlotte Harris, Laura Shufelt

Donor Gives Message of Hope to Angel House Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 @ 01:39 PM
Matt Sullivan Edited-1.jpg
Matthew Sullivan has connected with the work being done at HAC’s Angel House shelter. In December, he will deliver a holiday meal and gifts to the clients there for the second straight year.  

"I’m living proof someone can change their life with the help of others,” Matthew Sullivan said recently at HAC where he was dropping off donations – a lamp, microwave, dishes, and more - to the agency’s Welcome Home Gift Basket program.

The donations, which will go to HAC clients transitioning out of shelter and into permanent housing, was the latest contribution that West Bridgewater’s Sullivan has made to HAC.

On Christmas Eve last December, he delivered a holiday meal and gifts to clients at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis. He plans on doing so again next month. Angel House is a program that supports mothers recovering from substance abuse and their children.

As someone who was homeless and has been in recovery for over 12 years, Sullivan relates to what clients at Angel House are going through. He was able to turn his life around through a recovery program for men. He said the work being done at Angel House reminds him of the program that had helped him through his struggles.

Today, Sullivan is happily married with three children, and works full-time as a fitness trainer and co-owner of MAD Boot Camps in Marshfield. “I’m trying to give a message of hope,” Sullivan said of his efforts to support HAC’s Angel House shelter and those it serves.

Donate to Angel House

Tags: Family Shelter, Angel House, Christmas, holiday giving, HAC donors, Matthew Sullivan

HAC Hires New CFO

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Nov 21, 2017 @ 07:00 AM

Stephen Ferris.jpg

Like many people, Stephen Ferris has his own bucket list though he admitted to having no control over it. “My daughter [Heather] is in charge of it,” he laughed, showing a cell phone picture of him skydiving, one of the more recent items he has been able to cross off that list.

Ferris’ latest adventure is less daring, but just as meaningful. This fall, he joins HAC as its new Chief Financial Officer. He succeeds Robert MacCready, who started at HAC in February 2008 and who will step down at the end of the year.

A graduate of Northeastern University, Ferris comes to HAC with over two decades of financial experience at American Express. He most recently served as its vice president of corporate planning and analysis, working out of the company’s Lower Manhattan office.

During the time he was living in New Jersey and working in New York City, Stephen and his wife Joanne regularly visited the Cape. Roughly eight years ago, the couple purchased a home in Brewster. A little less than a year ago, the pair moved here full-time.

In May, he and Heather opened The Break Room, a retail surf and swim shop in Chatham.

Shortly thereafter he started volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod, helping with the six homes the nonprofit is building in Brewster.

While his position at HAC does not entail jumping out of planes or diving with sharks – the next item on his bucket list – Ferris sees his work at HAC as just as rewarding. “My grandmother always said, ‘home is where the heart is,’ no matter where you live,” he said. “Having a home is a very important thing. And bringing that safety and stability to it is incredibly important.”

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Chief Financial Officer, CFO, Robert MacCready, Stephen Ferris

Richard Waystack: Affordable Housing Champion

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Nov 20, 2017 @ 10:33 AM
HWLW-2 ( Richard Waystack).jpgBernadette and Richard Waystack during this summer's 25th Annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk. While in Harwich, they got some support from their granddaughter Juliet. 

With a 31-year career in the real estate industry on Cape Cod, Harwich’s Richard Waystack understands the vital role a home plays in one’s life. “It is the basis of all we do,” he said.

And so it is through housing that Waystack has not only made a living, but given meaning to his life. It started over three decades ago when he was introduced to the late Bob Murray, a former grant writer for HAC and a passionate advocate for affordable housing on Cape Cod.

Waystack helped Murray with a project undertaken by the Harwich Community Development Corporation which built seven affordable homes on Community Way during the 1980s. “When you drive by those houses they are like any other house in the neighborhood,” Waystack said. “And the people that live there are your neighbors and work here in town.”

Since that time, both Richard and his wife Bernadette, an artist and art teacher at Monomoy Regional High School, have been tireless in their efforts to address the region’s housing needs. Richard was a board member for the Harwich Ecumenical Council for Housing (HECH), the former president and director of The Family Pantry of Cape Cod, and has served as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod.

Over the past four years, the couple have walked the length of Cape Cod, from Provincetown to Falmouth, for one week every July as part of the annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk. They have done so in memory of Richard’s longtime friend Bob Murray, all while raising funds for HAC’s housing programs and services.

Richard said he and his wife were drawn to the agency after meeting HAC’s Margaret Benaka and Deanna Bussiere who have served as the drivers for those taking part in the annual walk. “Because those ladies were so passionate my wife said we should do more to help because HAC seems to be one of the biggest parts of the solution in battling housing insecurity,” Richard said.

The Waystack’s passion for supporting HAC has only grown because of the need for affordable housing that still exists in the region. “I think there are some great opportunities at HAC with a dynamic group of new leadership,” Richard said. “HAC can be the prime force in creating housing security here on Cape Cod.”

It is a cause that Richard, who was recently recognized with a Good Neighbor Award for his volunteerism from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, will continue to champion. “What people don’t see is the other side of Cape Cod,” Richard said. “There are many people struggling and we’ve got to provide housing for them.”

Why We Give: Homeless Outreach

While Richard Waystack’s passion for addressing the region’s housing issues spans the gamut of services HAC provides, he expressed particular interest in the agency’s homeless outreach program.

Started in June 2016, the program currently consists of three case managers – Derick Bussiere, Deborah McDonnell, and Shannon Tracy – who are connecting the homeless on Cape Cod to the services they need to move into safe, stable housing. That housing can allow them to turn their lives around. From January to the end of September, the trio has worked with 175 clients, placing 26 into permanent housing.

“What that does is give hope to people,” Waystack said of the outreach program. “There are a huge population on the Cape who are not able to afford good, safe, warm housing… With permanent housing people are able to get better jobs and be a part of the economy. And they are able to better their own circumstances in life. Without permanent housing that is difficult for people.”

Support HAC's Homeless Outreach Efforts

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Housing with love walk, Deanna Bussiere, Richard Waystack, Bernadette Waystack, Derick Bussiere, Bob Murray, Margaret Benaka, homeless outreach, Harwich

Cape Housing Institute: The Speakers

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 @ 03:57 PM

Since the middle of last month, 140 elected and appointed officials, municipal employees, and members of town boards, committees, and commissions on Cape Cod have come together to learn about ways they can begin to address the affordable housing needs in their communities. 

It’s all part of the Cape Housing Institute, a joint initiative between HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP). During the six-week session, experts in the field of housing, zoning, design, and planning are sharing their insights to assist municipal leaders as they tackle this issue.

Below are thoughts that two of those presenters - Heather Harper of the Cape Cod Commission and Jennifer Goldson of JM Goldson community preservation + planning - shared about the inaugural institute. Click here to read about what two participants think about the Cape Housing Institute and affordable housing on Cape Cod. 

Next year, HAC and CDP will be bringing back the Cape Housing Institute while also giving the general public an opportunity to lend their support to the region's housing efforts through Advocacy Training. Click here to learn more and to keep updated on these upcoming housing workshops. 

Heather Harper.jpg

Heather Harper
Cape Cod Commission Affodable Housing Specialist
 

Topic: Cape Cod Commission Regional Housing Market Analysis

Why the Cape Housing Institute is Necessary: I think it’s important to talk about how we meet some of our social and demographic goals as a region, and to think about how our decisions as individual communities may be effective and not effective as they relate to the overall regional plan.

Why Affordable Housing is an Important Issue: If we don’t provide housing to meet the needs of the services of the region, we might not meet our full economic potential.

Jennifer Goldson.jpgJennifer Goldson
Founder, JM Goldson community preservation + planning

Topic: Housing Production Plans

Why the Cape Housing Institute is Necessary: Affordable housing issues and needs are one of the least understood areas of community planning, and the Cape truly has a unique market.

Why Affordable Housing is an Important Issue: Having quality homes for all incomes on the Cape is inseparably linked to the health, vitality, and long-term sustainability of the Cape’s local and regional economy.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Cape Cod, Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Housing Development, Cape Housing Institute, Community Development Partnership, Cape Community Housing Partnership, Cape Cod Commission, Jennifer Goldson, Heather Harper

Cape Housing Institute: The Participants

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 @ 01:55 PM

Since the middle of last month, 140 elected and appointed officials, municipal employees, and members of town boards, committees, and commissions on Cape Cod have come together to learn about ways they can begin to address the affordable housing needs in their communities.

It’s all part of the Cape Housing Institute, a joint initiative between HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP). During the six-week session, experts in the field of housing, zoning, design, and planning are sharing their insights to assist municipal leaders as they tackle this issue.

Next year, HAC and CDP will be bringing back the Cape Housing Institute while also giving the general public an opportunity to lend their support to the region's housing efforts through Advocacy Training. Click here to learn more and to keep updated on these upcoming housing workshops. 

John Cotton.jpgJohn Cotton
Mashpee Selectman

Why He Enrolled in the Institute: I’m looking to be more informed specifically about the housing challenges on Cape Cod.

Why Affordable Housing is an Important Issue: I think our challenge right now [in Mashpee] is new families starting out. They need a break to get started and to build a family that can grow up on Cape Cod. I think [affordable housing] gives them that capability.

Julian Suso.jpgJulian Suso
Falmouth Town Manager

Why He Enrolled in the Institute: It provides an opportunity to be exposed to, meet with, and discuss with our peers in nearby communities how they are responding to the affordable housing challenges we’re all encountering.

Why Affordable Housing is an Important Issue: Affordable housing is critical because it underlies any community’s ability to really welcome people of all backgrounds and all experiences… It is fundamental to the quality of life in any community to have housing in all price ranges.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Mashpee, Falmouth, Cape Housing Institute, Community Development Partnership, Cape Community Housing Partnership, John Cotton, Julian Sus

Preparing Residents to Become Homeowners on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Nov 02, 2017 @ 03:12 PM
Homebuyer17-3.jpgHAC Housing Counselor Karin Bar teaches a First-Time Homebuyer workshop in September. The classes are offered in four-day or two-day sessions as well as online for those unable to attend in person. 

On the last Thursday of September, 36 people sat quietly in the conference room at HAC’s office at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis.

Individually, they may have been different, but they all shared at least two similarities – they each rent a home or an apartment on Cape Cod. And they all hope to one day become a homeowner.

On this night, HAC Housing Counselor Karin Bar provided guidance on how they can achieve those dreams as part of the agency’s First-Time Homebuyer Workshop. HAC offers the class eight times a year; in 2016, 282 people, representing 196 households, took the class to prepare them for the home buying process.

“They are always full and in demand,” said Bar, who has been teaching the classes for the past three years.

There are a number of reasons people take the classes. Certain loan programs, including those offered by MassHousing, Fannie Mae, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and the United States Department of Agriculture, require it.

“To get down payment assistance, it’s a requirement,” Bar added.

It’s also necessary for anyone who wants to purchase an affordable or deed-restricted home.

Homebuyer17-1.jpgJohn Hughes (left) of Falmouth and Ernesto Garcia of South Yarmouth review materials during a First-Time Homebuyer workshop held in October. 

Topics covered during the workshop include budgeting, credit, and loan programs available to homebuyers. Clients also have access to local experts, from Realtors to real estate attorneys to insurance agents to home inspectors, who walk students through each step one must take to fulfill the American dream.

“I think this program is a great tool for when you’re ready to buy a home,” said John Hughes of Falmouth, a financial specialist with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Gaming Commission. He had originally taken the course in 2015 and was back for the course in September so he could maintain his certification to keep him eligible for loan programs aimed at first-time homebuyers.

As to why he wants to become a homeowner, he said, “for stability.”

Ernesto Garcia, who rents an apartment with his fiancée in South Yarmouth, is less sure about purchasing a home, but the classes helped clarify the process. “If you have any doubts, what they teach makes it clearer,” he said.

Wanting to become a homeowner is one of the biggest decisions people will make in their lives. HAC’s First-Time Homebuyer workshop is aimed at not only taking the stress out of the equation, but making it enjoyable for participants.

“This is like the maternity ward… This is fun. People are excited and thinking about buying a house,” Bar said of the workshop. “At the end of every class series, we have people fill out an evaluation form and there has never been anyone who says it wasn’t worth it.”

Register for HAC's First-Time Homebuyer Workshop

Those interested in signing up for a First-Time Homebuyer class can do so by clicking this link. HAC also offers a number of other financial literacy classes including Rebuilding Your Credit; Budgeting; Be a Successful Tenant; Community Resources; and Home Forever. Click here to see a full class listing offered by HAC.  

Tags: HCEC, Homebuyer Education, homeownership, Karin Bar, housing consumer education, First-Time Homebuyer workshop, affordable homeownership, first-time homebuyer

Shelter Telethon Embodies the Holiday Spirit

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Nov 02, 2017 @ 01:38 PM

HACbeat Email Photo.jpg

There’s a moment every year when Cape Cod Broadcasting’s Matt Pitta truly gets into the spirit of the holiday season. It always happens at the same event – HAC’s annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon – which Pitta co-hosts with WCAI’s Mindy Todd.

“The vibe and the atmosphere in the studio all night is kind of electrifying,” he said. “That’s when I get into the holiday spirit – when I see people giving back to the community. That is the true spirit of the holidays right there.”

This year’s telethon, now in its 14th year, will take place on Thursday, December 14, from 5-9 pm. The show is broadcast live from Cape Cod Community Media Center and airs on local cable access channels throughout the Cape.

The telethon will feature HAC staff, elected officials, and community leaders working to help those most in need on Cape Cod and the Islands, placing a spotlight on the region’s housing and homelessness issues.

Funds raised from the telethon go to support HAC’s programs, including homeless outreach as well as its four family shelters – Angel House in Hyannis, the Village at Cataumet in Bourne, Carriage House in North Falmouth, and Scattered Sites in Hyannis.

“I do think every year that it gives a special meaning to Christmas,” said HAC volunteer Wayne Bergeron of Dennis who assists with the event.

Pitta said the telethon serves as an opportunity for people “to make a difference in the community. And that’s really what the holidays are all about.”

Support the Telethon

Sponsor the Telethon, an event that epitomizes the true meaning of the holiday season! Contact HAC Event Coordinator Deanna Bussiere at dbussiere@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 270.

HAC relies on volunteer phone fundraisers at the Telethon to raise funds to ensure we can continue to support the region’s most vulnerable residents. You can register by clicking this link. If you have questions, please contact HAC Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 279 to sign up.

You can also donate to the Telethon by clicking this link

Tags: Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, NOAH Telethon, Mindy Todd, Fundraising, Matt Pitta, Christmas, Wayne Bergeron, holiday giving

Choose Your Own Affordable Home in Yarmouth

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Oct 25, 2017 @ 01:46 PM

Yarmouth Buydown Photo.jpg

With housing at a premium, becoming a homeowner on Cape Cod continues to be difficult for low- to middle-income wage earners. In Yarmouth, a handful of residents will have an opportunity to achieve that dream through a buydown program HAC is administering for the town.

The program will enable 4 residents to purchase a market rate home at an affordable price. “Inventory has gotten really expensive so a buyer could find a market rate property priced at $289,000 and buy it at $189,000 with a deed restriction,” said Gael Kelleher, HAC’s director of Cape Community Real Estate. “It is the best deal in town. You can’t beat it.”

Qualified applicants must be first-time homebuyers (some exceptions apply), earn 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Barnstable County, and have no more than $75,000 in household assets. To participate in the program, residents must fill out an application and return it to HAC’s offices at 460 West Main Street by Friday, November 17 by 5 pm.

Applications are available at HAC; Yarmouth Town Hall at 1146 Route 28; Yarmouth Housing Authority at 534 Winslow Gray Road; and all Yarmouth public libraries.

Winners will be selected by lottery and will receive a buydown of 35% of the purchase price of a market rate home of their choice, up to $100,000. The following are maximum prices of homes that can be purchased in Yarmouth through this program: $339,000 (four bedroom); $319,000 (three bedroom); $295,000 (two bedroom); and $273,000 (one bedroom).

Any house purchased through the program will be recorded and deed restricted as affordable.

Contact HAC Real Estate Assistant Betsie Rumbaugh at ccre@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 285 for more information on the Yarmouth Buydown Program.

Tags: Gael Kelleher, Cape Community Real Estate, homeownership, affordable homeownership, Yarmouth Buydown Program, Yarmouth