Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Chris Kazarian

Recent Posts

Animals Offer Delight at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Sep 13, 2018 @ 01:07 PM
Cataumet Animals-1A child at the Village at Cataumet pets Zima the cockatoo, one of several animals to visit the Bourne shelter. 

His name – Harold – was friendly enough. But his appearance, now that was an entirely different matter.

“That is far enough,” Paula Mallard, the facility director at the Village at Cataumet shelter, laughed as Rick Roth, owner of Creature Teachers in Littleton, pulled out Harold the tarantula from a box and held it in his hand.

At the end of July, Roth and his animal sidekicks – they included Zima the cockatoo, Mr. Prickles the hedgehog, Walter the American alligator, and Gertrude the possum – paid a visit to the family shelter, providing some entertainment and education to more than a half dozen families, including eight children.

Cataumet Animals-2Mr. Prickles, a hedgehog, gets some attention during his visit to the Village at Cataumet. 

Paula, a client at the shelter, was surprised to see that her granddaughter, who has sensory issues, was “actually touching all the animals. Now I want to take her to a petting zoo,” she said.

The animal encounter was paid for by Bourne For Children which offers parenting workshops and play and learn groups in the community. “Kids are fascinated by this,” said HAC volunteer Maura Dankert, who is the Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Coordinator for Bourne For Children.

Roth, who does similar presentations at the Jonathan Bourne Public Library, agreed. “It gives kids the opportunity to see and touch some of the animals,” he said. “A lot of them are really interested in the animals.”

Cataumet Animals-3Paula Mallard (from left), facility director at the Village at Cataumet, HAC volunteer Maura Dankert, and Rick Roth, owner of Creature Teachers, with Zima the cockatoo. 

Tags: Bourne, The Village at Cataumet, Paula Mallard, Maura Dankert, Village at Cataumet, HAC Volunteers, Rick Roth, Creature Teachers, animals

Cape Housing Institute Begins in October

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Sep 13, 2018 @ 12:41 PM
Housing Institute-25Jim Donaghue and Elizabeth Brown, both of Bourne, were among the 140 municipal officials to take part in last year's Cape Housing Institute. 

HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP) will kick off the second year of the Cape Housing Institute next month. The six-week workshop is intended for municipal officials throughout Cape Cod, providing them with the support, tools and resources to help boost the development of affordable housing needed in their individual communities. 

Sessions, which will begin on Wednesday, October 3 and end on Thursday, November 8, will be held in four separate sections on Cape Cod. 

Municipal officials on the Upper and Mid-Cape can sign up here. Officials on the Lower and Outer Cape can sign up here

 HAC will organize the weekly sessions on the Mid-Cape and Upper Cape which will be held every Thursday. Those on the Mid-Cape will take place from 1-3:30 pm at the Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS at 22 Mid-Tech Drive in West Yarmouth. Those on the Upper Cape will take place from 6-8:30 pm at the Mashpee Public Library at 64 Steeple Street.

Housing Institute-18This year's Cape Housing Institute features a revised curriculum as well as a slate of new and returning speakers. Among those returning are Laura Shufelt, assistant director for community assistance at Massachusetts Housing Partnership. 

CDP’s sessions will be held every Wednesday on the Outer and Lower Cape. Those on the Lower Cape will take place from 1-3:30 pm at the Harwich Cultural Center at 204 Sisson Road. Those on the Outer Cape will take place from 6-8:30 pm at the Eastham Public Library at 190 Samoset Road.

The Cape Housing Institute is free and open to elected and appointed officials throughout Cape Cod and the Islands as well as town housing and planning staff.

This year’s institute will be more interactive, allowing participants to engage in workshops so they can better understand their community’s housing needs and ways their municipality can address them.

Each class will focus on a specific topic related to housing development starting with Cape Cod housing needs and telling your town’s data story; an overview of Chapter 40B; planning and community engagement; financing; development; and fair housing and advocacy.

New this year, officials and staff in each town will convene for a post-institute wrap up to determine their community’s next plans of action.

Register for This Year’s Institute

To register for sessions on the Upper and Mid-Cape, visit www.capehousinginstitute.org.

To register for sessions on the Lower and Outer Cape, visit www.capecdp.org.

The Cape Housing Institute is free and open to elected and appointed officials and town housing and planning staff.

 

Tags: Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Housing Development, Cape Housing Institute, Community Development Partnership, Cape Community Housing Partnership

Oysters & Champagne Raises Funds for HAC's Programs

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Sep 11, 2018 @ 05:40 AM
Oysters-1Dr. William Rhodes, a longtime HAC donor, enjoying some of the delicious oysters at the Wequassett Resort. 

On a picturesque Cape Cod summer evening, over 100 HAC supporters gathered at the Wequassett Resort in Harwich to celebrate the agency’s work and raise funds so it can continue to provide access to housing for those most in need in our region.

The brainchild of HAC’s Chief Development Officer Anne Van Vleck, Oysters & Champagne was a fun, casual affair in an inspiring setting. Over $50,000 was raised that will enable HAC to address the region’s housing issues.

“You all being here is literally a translation of our mission in action,” HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi told those in attendance. “Housing instability is a very serious problem in our region and tonight, all of us here together, we are actually doing something about it.”

On a picturesque Cape Cod summer evening, over 100 HAC supporters gathered at the Wequassett Resort in Harwich to celebrate the agency’s work and raise funds so it can continue to provide access to housing for those most in need in our region.

Oysters-3HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi (from left) with John and Barbara Cotton of Mashpee and HAC Chief Development Officer Anne Van Vleck. 

The brainchild of HAC’s Chief Development Officer Anne Van Vleck, Oysters & Champagne was a fun, casual affair in an inspiring setting. Over $50,000 was raised that will enable HAC to address the region’s housing issues.

“You all being here is literally a translation of our mission in action,” HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi told those in attendance. “Housing instability is a very serious problem in our region and tonight, all of us here together, we are actually doing something about it.”

Dan Wolf, the vice chair of HAC’s Board of Directors, thanked guests for their generosity before calling on them to continue to support the nonprofit’s housing efforts. “Let’s keep the fight going because we have a long way to go, but we’re working on it and I think we’re doing a great job,” he said.

Make A Donation

Tags: Anne Van Vleck, Harwich, Oysters & Champagne, wequassett resort, Dan Wolf, HAC Board of Directors

Preventing Homelessness on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 @ 03:15 PM

dsc_8630-resized-600

When it comes to money, $500 may not seem like much. But at HAC, it often is the difference between keeping a client in their home and them becoming homeless.

Over the past 25 years, HAC’s Project Prevention has worked to prevent homelessness through one-time emergency funds that go to pay utility bills, rent or mortgage arrears for individuals and families on Cape Cod and the Islands.

“A relatively small amount of money can resolve a really big problem,” said HAC’s Information and Client Services Manager Liz Belcher who assists individuals at risk of becoming homeless. Monica Mitchell, HAC’s family services supervisor, assists families at risk of becoming homeless.

Among Belcher’s recent clients is a woman in her 30s who holds a Section 8 voucher and was unable to work due to an injury. While she filed for unemployment and an adjustment on her rent, Belcher said, “both of those take time” so HAC used $439 from Project Prevention funds to cover her rent.

A frequent request, Belcher said, is individuals seeking money to prevent their utilities from being shut off. “Usually anywhere between $150 and $450 we give as a down payment on someone’s utility arrearage,” said Belcher. “And then we get them on a payment plan. It is really a leg up.”

homeless-prevention

On average, Belcher said, she sees at least 15 clients a week who need funds to keep them in their homes or apartments.

That funding comes from two sources – the Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) and the Barnstable Interfaith Council (BIC).

DYECH’s funding supports HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts for families while BIC’s funding goes towards individuals in danger of becoming homeless. Both raise funds for HAC through the sale of gift certificates to local supermarkets and restaurants that are sold at face value to the public. Because the faith-based groups purchase those certificates in bulk, they receive a discount, allowing five percent of each purchase to go towards HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts.

Since it was formed in 1993, DYECH has raised over $1.5 million to help keep local families in their homes and apartments and off the streets. BIC has raised nearly $400,000 for individuals.

For roughly 20 years, Deacon David Akin of St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth, has been involved in DYECH’s efforts to support HAC’s Project Prevention. “It is good for the soul,” he said of his involvement. “You’re doing something good for another human being or family.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Cash for Causes-1

If you shop for food at a supermarket, then you can help prevent homelessness on Cape Cod. It’s that simple.

HAC sells gift certificates at face value to the following stores: Lambert’s; Shaw’s/Star Market; Stop & Shop; Ring Brothers; Peterson’s Market & Fancy’s in Osterville; Roche Brothers; Cape Cod Natural Foods; and Whole Foods as well as Country Garden; CVS; 99 Restaurant & Pub; and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Because the Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) and the Barnstable Interfaith Council (BIC) purchase those certificates in bulk, they receive a 5 percent discount on them. For each certificate sold, that 5 percent goes to HAC to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless.

Deacon David Akin of St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth said, “it should be a no-brainer” for people to participate in the program. “We are supposed to support our neighbors.”

Those interested in purchasing gift certificates to support HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts can do so at our office at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis.

Along with selling gift certificates, DYECH organizes free concerts twice a year where they collect donations on behalf of Project Prevention. It also works with local restaurants who donate a portion of their patrons’ checks to Project Prevention several times a year. Visit www.dyech.org for details on upcoming fundraisers.

 

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, Liz Belcher, homelessness, homelessness prevention, homeless prevention, Gift Cards for prevention, grocery cards for prevention, David Akin, Barnstable Interfaith Council, BIC

HAC Intern Has Passion for Helping Others

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Aug 30, 2018 @ 04:50 PM
Ashley Intern PhotoAshley McCloud (second from left) with HAC’s Margaret Benaka (from left), Ruth Bechtold, Suzanne Smith, Jo Ann Cournoyer and Mary Everett-Patriquin on the final day of her internship.

When she graduates from Wheaton College next May, Ashley McCloud plans to get her master’s degree in business administration and then “be able to create my own company where I can be able to help reduce poverty.” 

Though she has long had a desire to help others, Ashley witnessed how HAC is working to disrupt poverty on the Cape and Islands as part of a summer internship which ended last month. 

“What I love about HAC is that each department here has a role and is contributing to people that need help,” she said. 

Over the course of two months, Ashley assisted several HAC departments, including HAC Energy, its Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC), and Family and Individuals Services. 

She helped Cassi Danzl, director of family and individuals services, on a safety policy and procedure for three of the agency’s family shelters – Scattered Sites, Carriage House and the Village at Cataumet. 

Ashley worked closely with Ruth Bechtold, manager of HAC Energy, in creating a standard operating procedure for invoicing. “She is very smart and also has a good sense of humor. She fit really well into our group,” Bechtold said of McCloud. “She is going to go places.” 

For Ashley, who grew up on Nantucket and lives in Hyannis, her career goals are rooted in her background. Her parents were born in Jamaica and during several trips there, Ashley has seen how insufficient housing, education, and healthcare have negatively impacted those on the Caribbean island. 

“I have a passion for helping people,” she said. “If you help someone, that person can then help the next person. It is about sending positive energy into the world.”

Tags: HCEC, Interns, Family Shelter, HAC Energy, housing consumer education, Cassi Danzl, Ruth Bechtold, Wheaton College, Ashley McCloud

Hydrangea Festival Raises Funds for Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Aug 22, 2018 @ 10:41 AM

Hydrangea-1

Marjorie Harvey and her grandson Jack.

For the third straight year, Marjorie Harvey opened up her Cotuit yard to the general public, all to raise funds for HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis.

“My garden is my passion,” Harvey said last month on the first of two days when visitors could tour her yard which is rich with an assortment of colorful flowers that include hydrangeas, daisies and campanulas as well as a fairy garden. “This is a chance for me to share that passion with others.”

Since 2016, Harvey has participated in the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce’s Hydrangea Festival which is held every July and allows the public to tour stunning gardens like hers for a minimal fee. Proceeds from the tours go to support nonprofits like HAC.

Hydrangea-2

Harvey was joined by her grandson, Jack Thornton of Hanover, who helped greet visitors to her yard. Along with the garden tour, Harvey held a cocktail party for family and friends as part of her fundraising effort.

This year, Harvey raised over $2,300 that will go to Angel House, a family shelter which serves mothers overcoming addiction and their children.

Tags: fundraiser, Angel House, gardening, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, Marjorie Harvey, Hydrangea Festival

Voucher Provides Necessary Stability for Vineyard Resident

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Aug 10, 2018 @ 02:46 PM

Leased Housing Client Photo-548543-edited

The car accident occurred nearly four decades ago when Michael Brady’s head hit the windshield of the vehicle he was in. Shortly thereafter, Brady, then only a teenager, started having seizures.

They became so bad, the Martha’s Vineyard resident said, “I couldn’t work any longer. They started happening in the daytime. I kept trying to work until 1990 when I was dangerous, not only to myself, but to others.”

Thanks to treatment – Brady had brain surgery in 1992 and a vagus nerve stimulator implanted into his chest in 2003, both at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center – he has not had a seizure in the past decade.

Thanks to a Section 8 voucher – Brady has had one for the past 15 years – he has had the housing stability to reduce his stress, offer him comfort, and ensure his safety.

Stable housing has provided even more than that for Brady. “I honestly might not be alive if it weren’t for this house,” he said.

Brady is one of nearly 1,200 HAC clients that the agency supports through housing vouchers which help offset rental costs and enable them to live on Cape Cod and the Islands. Some clients represent the region’s workforce. Some are elderly. And some, like Brady, are disabled.

Prior to receiving his voucher, Brady was homeless, living on friends’ couches. At his worst, Brady was living in the basement of a home with three other roommates. “I never had more seizures than there,” he said.

Around 2003, Brady’s situation improved when he landed a Section 8 voucher through HAC, enabling him to rent a home in Edgartown. The voucher provided him with the housing stability he needed to address his medical condition.

While he is still unable to work, Brady is leaving his mark in other ways. He makes jewelry – beads, necklaces, pendants and earrings - for friends and family using quahog shells. “It gives me a purpose,” he said of the craft.

“He makes the most beautiful jewelry I’ve ever seen,” said Logan Patrick, HAC’s supervisor of inspection services. “He said this to me: housing is what enabled him to have a life. Housing is what enabled him to go beyond that and be creative in that life… That is why I do this job because whether we realize it or not, the work we do for our clients builds a better community for all of us.”

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Section 8, Martha's Vineyard, Leased Housing, Logan Patrick, Michael Brady, housing stability, vouchers, housing vouchers

Volunteers Needed for Harwich Big Fix

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Aug 10, 2018 @ 11:25 AM
Big Fix imageVolunteers work on a home during last year's Big Fix in Falmouth. This year's Big Fix is coming to Harwich on Saturday, September 22. 

A total of 15 Harwich homeowners will benefit from the generosity of HAC volunteers as part of this year’s Big Fix on Saturday, September 22.

“Each one of them are special in their own way,” said HAC Project Coordinator Romy Maimon. “Volunteers will be assisting a great group of people this year.”

Along with HAC Maintenance Supervisor Keith Trott, Maimon has visited each of the homes for recipients of the Harwich Big Fix. “From everybody, I heard the word ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘grateful,’” Maimon said.

Those feelings will be on full display next month when more than 200 volunteers come out to make small repairs for those homeowners, who are either veterans, seniors, or disabled.

“It is a wonderful way to make a difference for people who don’t have the physical or financial capability to do these jobs themselves,” said HAC Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin.

HAC is currently seeking hands-on volunteers who will spend roughly four hours on September 22 doing a range of work that will include raking, weeding, hauling brush, trimming trees, interior and exterior painting as well as light carpentry.

“In general volunteers don’t need to have special skills. They just need to be able to perform tasks of moderate intensity,” Everett-Patriquin said. “If people have some basic home repair skills in carpentry, electrical, plumbing or other trades that is certainly a plus.”

Along with serving as a hands-on volunteer, residents can sign up as a Big Fix Fundraiser to help raise funds for HAC that will help the agency conduct this type of work on a year-round basis instead of annually.

To register as a Big Fix volunteer or fundraiser, click this link. The deadline to sign up as a volunteer is Saturday, September 1.

Tags: Mary Everett Patriquin, Fundraising, volunteerism, Big Fix, HAC Volunteers, volunteer, Falmouth Big Fix, Harwich, Harwich Big Fix, Romy Maimon

Get to Know HAC's Leased Housing Inspectors

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Aug 03, 2018 @ 04:28 PM
Leased Housing Photo-1HAC Supervisor of Inspection Services Logan Patrick (left) and Inspector John Paul conduct inspections for households that receive Section 8 vouchers. 

HAC’s Leased Housing Department is not only the agency’s oldest program, it is among its largest, impacting nearly 1,200 households on an annual basis, allowing them to remain on Cape Cod and the Islands thanks to the support of rental housing vouchers.

“I think we touch the most households as a department in a given year,” said HAC Director of Leased Housing Cindi Maule.

“And certainly our inspectors, they’re going into a lot more homes than any other department,” added Anne Williams, the assistant director for leased housing.

Inspections are done to ensure those receiving housing vouchers through the federally-funded Section 8 program are living in safe, decent homes or apartments using a set of regulations prescribed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). At HAC, they are conducted by two employees – Supervisor of Inspection Services Logan Patrick and Inspector John Paul.

Each unit receives an initial inspection, Maule said, which determines the amount of rent suitable for it. Follow-up inspections are conducted either annually or biannually to ensure the landlord is fulfilling their responsibilities and tenants are complying with theirs. It’s a balancing act that Patrick said requires inspectors to remain neutral and protect landlords as well as their tenants.

The Face of Leased Housing

Both Patrick and Paul, Maule said, “are the face of Leased Housing and Section 8… Inspectors are entering into people’s homes and private spaces so they are aware of that and being respectful of that.”

Patrick, who has over 21 years’ worth of experience conducting housing inspections, arrived at HAC a little over a year ago. He most recently served as the director of rental assistance at Housing Solutions in Kingston.

A firm believer in social justice, Patrick understands the importance of programs like Section 8 which accesses federal funds to cover a portion of one’s rent for those who meet income eligibility requirements. That funding helps to stabilize their housing to ensure they can remain here.

“We work with people who have the least in our society and need the most, through no fault of their own,” Patrick said. “We’re talking about the elderly and the disabled. We also service a lot of working class people who, because their wages are so low, can’t afford to rent and they need financial assistance… I want our clients to have housing and be in a safe place to either raise their kids or go to work, and not have to worry about having a roof over their head.”

Tags: Section 8, MA Rental Voucher Program, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Cindi Maule, Leased Housing, Anne Williams, Logan Patrick, John Paul, housing inspections

Donor Spotlight: Meg Chaffee

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Aug 01, 2018 @ 11:58 AM

 

Meg Chaffee Photo

She has worked at HAC for more than 17 years, but Meg Chaffee’s connection to the agency goes back even further when she was once a client.

“I left a domestic violence situation and was allowed to go into one of HAC’s shelters,” she said. At the time, it was only her and her son, Justus, whose name is a combination of two words – “just” and “us” – that defined all the two had when they sought help from HAC.

In HAC, Meg and her son found the necessary support and resources to make their way through that difficult period in their lives. “There’s a lot HAC has helped me with,” she said, which included providing her with two cars from the agency’s now-defunct Wheels to Work Program. “I used to take the B-Bus with my son in Hyannis. Sometimes it would take an hour and a half to get to work when I worked at Toys R Us. When I got the car, it was nice because I could go to the grocery store and laundromat on my own.”

When Chaffee left the shelter, she received a Section 8 voucher that has provided her with financial assistance in paying her rent on Cape Cod.

In 2001, HAC had an opening for a Section 8 program representative which she applied to because she wanted to find a way to give back to those in need. “I wanted to help other people,” she explained.

A Commitment to HAC

While she has done that in her role, helping to administer HAC’s Section 8 vouchers, she has taken her commitment a step further – as a HAC donor.

In May, she was one of several longtime donors to be recognized at HAC’s Annual Dinner & Volunteer Recognition as part of the agency’s Loyalty Circle. She has donated annually to HAC for over 10 years in a row.

At $10 a month, it is admittedly not a lot, but she knows that she is doing her part so the agency can help others in need. She has her monthly donation taken directly out of her biweekly paycheck.

She hopes her giving will inspire her fellow HAC employees – the agency has a total of 111 full- and part-time staff – to do the same. “I’d like to challenge all of our employees, if they’re not already donating, to make that donation,” she said.

That challenge is coming during a significant milestone in her life. Last month, she gave up her housing voucher and is now able to pay her full rent. Chaffee is just one example that the agency’s programs provide tangible results.

When asked what HAC does best, she laughingly asked, “one thing?” before answering in this way: “It makes a better community.”

Why I Give

Along with her monthly donation to HAC, Meg Chaffee participates in the agency’s Cape Cod Caring Cards program, regularly purchasing Shaw’s gift certificates which result in donations that help keep individuals in their homes and off the streets.

Organized through the Barnstable Interfaith Council (BIC), the program allows the public to purchase gift cards at face value to participating stores and restaurants, including Lambert’s; Shaw’s/Star Market; Stop & Shop; Ring Brothers; Peterson’s Market & Fancy’s in Osterville; Roche Brothers; Country Garden; Cape Cod Natural Foods; Whole Foods; CVS; 99 Restaurant & Pub; and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Because the stores sell the gift certificates to BIC in bulk, they are discounted, which allows five percent of every purchase to go towards HAC’s Project Prevention for individuals, a program to prevent homelessness.

While it does not cost her anything extra, Chaffee said, purchasing the gift cards gives her the satisfaction of knowing that she may be helping an individual who may need emergency financial assistance to either stay in their home or to find a new, more stable place to live.

Gift certificates for BIC can be purchased at HAC’s office at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis. Click here for more info on the Cape Cod Caring Cards program. 

Tags: Project Prevention, Family Shelter, homelessness prevention, homeless prevention, HAC staff, HAC donors, Donor Spotlight, Meg Chaffee, Barnstable Interfaith Council, BIC