|Matt Pitta (left), co-host of last month's Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, interviews longtime HAC supporter Paul Hebert about the region's housing issues.
When Paul and Carolyn Hebert arrived on Cape Cod in 1981 with their three daughters Aimee, Mary and Meg, finding a home was difficult. “We had to rent for two years because we couldn’t find housing we could afford,” he said.
Fast forward 36 years later and Paul admitted the situation is even worse. “It was unreasonably high to buy a house back then, but now for people earning basic wages it is nearly impossible and getting more difficult every day,” he said.
It is for this reason that the Heberts have given to HAC for 20 years, highlighted by their most recent $1,000 donation to the agency at its 14th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon last month. Paul made the donation on-air on behalf of the couple’s company, Charitable Redemption Partnership in Yarmouth, which utilizes proceeds from redeemable cans and bottles to support local charities on the Cape such as HAC.
“As a town councilor in Barnstable, I look to Housing Assistance Corporation as the best prepared to care for the least among us who need housing,” Paul said of his longtime support of the agency.
Paul’s history with HAC goes back to the mid-1980s when he convinced former CEO and founder Rick Presbrey to open the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis to provide emergency shelter for homeless individuals.
In 1991, the Heberts took their activism a step further when they started CHAMP Homes to care for homeless adolescents. “We realized there was more to be done and came to understand that there was this next group that was not being served,” Paul explained. “It was the young people, around 18 years of age, who were sleeping in various places in the community whether it was teaming up six to an apartment or couch surfing or sleeping in cars or the woods just to survive.”
The Heberts spent the next 24 years at CHAMP Homes and were recognized for their efforts with the Presbrey Public Service Award in 2006 at HAC’s Annual Meeting.
Though Paul and his wife stepped down from CHAMP Homes in 2015, he remains as passionate about housing issues as he did when he was first introduced to HAC three decades ago. And he views HAC as a pivotal player in addressing those issues on Cape Cod. “I believe Housing Assistance Corporation is a standard bearer,” Paul said. “They hold the flag to deal with this battle so we have to keep supporting them.”
Why I Give: Paul Hebert
As a Barnstable Town Councilor, Paul Hebert paints a grim picture of the housing reality on Cape Cod. “Living on Cape Cod is not a realistic dream for most people,” he said.
This is why he believes housing development – building more affordable rentals and homes for the Cape’s workforce – is the region’s primary need. “We know Barnstable is short 1,200 rental units,” he said.
Hebert supports HAC because he understands it is best suited to address this need. “We have to build so many rentals and we are so far behind. I don’t know of any other organization that can do a better job and has the capacity to help than Housing Assistance Corporation,” he said.
With the completion of Sachem’s Path on Nantucket, HAC has developed more than 500 units of affordable housing since its inception. It is in the midst of constructing 44 apartments in Bourne and is in the planning stages of building eight affordable and workforce apartments in Hyannis.
Through the Cape Community Housing Partnership, a joint initiative between HAC and Community Development Partnership in Eastham, it is also providing community leaders and residents with the tools to boost affordable housing that is sorely needed in the region.
Affordable Housing on Cape Cod,
Shelter Cape Cod Telethon,
Housing on Cape Cod,
Charitable Redemption Partnership
|Two Angel House clients, Samantha (second from right) and Jeana (right), had an opportunity to share their powerful, touching stories on-air at HAC’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon.
Since last January, 30-year-old Samantha has been at HAC’s Angel House where she lives with her six-month-old son. “Angel House, I would say, has given me, me back,” she said during last month’s 14th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon which was televised on cable access channels Cape-wide.
Samantha was one of several clients who told their story during the telethon. The annual event raises funds for the agency’s programs and brings awareness to the work HAC is doing to provide housing services and solutions to those most in need on Cape Cod and the Islands.
The telethon raised nearly $75,000. The funds will allow HAC to help those like Samantha who had struggled with addiction for roughly 15 years. “I am 16 months clean today,” she said. “It has been a really long ride and it’s been really difficult… Last year I was in a sober house and became pregnant early in my sobriety. I made the decision to move to Angel House. Coming to Angel House was probably the best decision I have ever made in my entire life.”
Telethon co-host Matt Pitta told viewers that these types of stories are an important reminder of “how the money you folks have donated over the years has made a huge difference, a real difference, in people’s lives.”
|Telethon Co-Host Mindy Todd interviews State Representative Sarah Peake who reminded the audience that housing is not a town issue, but a Cape-wide issue that is affecting the entire region.
HAC has made a difference, CEO Alisa Galazzi said, by providing clients with safe, stable housing. “That is what our mission is: keep them safe, get them housed, but really help take them to the next level in their life.
“You’ve got to have housing,” she continued. “It’s a basic human need, and from housing we can talk about jobs. We can talk about health care. We can talk about living the life you want to live.”
This year’s telethon allowed not only HAC clients to tell their story, but HAC staff, including homeless outreach specialists Derick Bussiere and Deborah McDonnell, and Paula Mallard, the facility director at the Village at Cataumet.
The telethon also featured an array of guests – State Senator Julian Cyr, Duffy Health Center CEO Heidi Nelson, and Paula Schnepp, coordinator for the Cape and Islands Regional Network to Address Homelessness, among others – who are taking steps to address the region’s housing needs.
State Representative Sarah Peake was one of those guests who underscored the importance of that work. “I can’t tell you, especially at this time of year when it gets cold, how many people are either homeless or one rent check away from becoming homeless,” she said. “I’m here to make the point for the people who are watching that this is not a Mid-Cape issue. This is not an Upper Cape issue. This is a Cape-wide issue.”
Affordable Housing on Cape Cod,
Shelter Cape Cod Telethon,
Throughout the year, our donors give to our clients in a variety of ways. That giving is always magnified during the holiday season. The following are a few of the heartwarming stories of how those young and old, local businesses, and families took time to remember those we serve last month.
Last month, Ariel Martynyak celebrated her 7th birthday by donating her gifts to children in need. “I wanted to donate this to other kids,” said Ariel, a first grader at West Villages Elementary School in Barnstable.
2017 Holiday Giving
|Cape Cod & Island's Associaton of Realtors Patricia Pry (left) real estate agents joined Sarah Lapsley (second from right) and her husband Gregory Martin in dropping off donations to HAC's Mary LeClair last month.
For the fourth straight year, the Cape Cod & Island’s Association of Realtors (CCIAOR) Young Professionals Network worked with local Realtors to collect items for our Welcome Home Gift Basket Program. The donations - 10 laundry baskets full of basic home goods – will be given to our clients in shelter when they make the transition into permanent housing. CCIAOR Member Programs Director Patricia Pry dropped off the donations to HAC’s Mary LeClair along with Sarah Lapsley and Gregory Martin of Kinlin Grover Real Estate in Yarmouth Port.
Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive,
Cape Cod & Islands Associaton of Realtors,
Welcome Home Gift Basket Program,
2017 Holiday Giving
|HAC's Deanna Bussier (from left) with Courtney Wittenstein and Lucy Fernandes of Whole Foods Hyannis.
Since opening four years ago in Hyannis, Whole Foods has made a commitment to supporting HAC and those most in need. This past December, it did so once again as part of the store’s Giving Tree, collecting toys for 48 children who celebrated Christmas in our shelters.
Whole Foods Metro Marketing Team Leader Courtney Wittenstein talked about the relationship the store has forged with HAC. “We are just really happy we’ve been able to continue this partnership that has allowed us to help our local community and our local families in need,” she said.
2017 Holiday Giving
|Cindy (left) and Tess Dooley with a few of the presents they collected for our families in need last month.
Instead of their annual Yankee Swap, Fred, Cindy and Tess Dooley of Marstons Mills convinced their family to forego the holiday tradition and give back to HAC’s clients instead. Gifts came from all over the country, including Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire and Vermont. Thanks to the Dooley’s generosity a total of 10 families and 14 children had presents to open last month. “This has more meaning to us,” Cindy said. “And it’s way more fun.”
2017 Holiday Giving
Earlier this month, HAC’s Housing Development Director Sandy Horvitz will attend a Homeowners Association meeting for Sachem’s Path, effectively concluding HAC’s role in the Nantucket project which saw the agency build 37 affordable homes for the island’s workforce on 10 acres of land off Surfside Road.
All 37 houses have been constructed and the final residents moved into their new homes just prior to Christmas. “I get emails from them [the homeowners] all the time saying, ‘This is the best thing that ever happened’ and ‘I can’t thank you enough,’” Horvitz said. “It is really heartwarming. It is one of those things that makes doing this job kind of fun, in a sense. There’s a reward you get when people are that excited.”
The project has been more than 30 years in the making. In 1985, Islanders voted to give the land to the Nantucket Housing Authority for the purpose of developing affordable housing. In 2011, the housing authority selected HAC to oversee the neighborhood project; construction began three years later.
“It’s been a very long road to see Sachem’s Path come to its completion. It’s a very proud moment for all of us who participated in its success and have seen it through to fruition. That includes HAC, the Nantucket Housing Authority, and the community at large which voted to be a major donor for the project,” Nantucket Housing Authority Director Renee Ceely said. “The real winners are the wonderful families who are now homeowners who thought owning a home was an impossible dream that actually came true.”
Learn more about Sachem's Path and those who have benefited from the project by clicking this link.
Affordable Rentals in Bourne
Now that Sachem’s Path is complete, HAC and the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) are in the midst of constructing 44 low-income and workforce apartments in Bourne. When finished next fall, those apartments will be added to the 73 that have already been built as part of the three-phased project known as Canal Bluffs.
Last July, HAC and POAH kicked off the third phase of Canal Bluffs with a groundbreaking ceremony. You can read about that event here.
Affordable Development on Cape Cod,
Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod,
|Liz Belcher, HAC’s Information and Client Services Manager, in the agency’s newly redesigned reception area.
In the coming weeks, HAC will be altering the way it conducts intake for those seeking assistance at its Hyannis office on 460 West Main Street. The change is intended to enhance services while ensuring clients experience a smoother, more efficient level of support.
“Our goal is to improve and expedite services for people who are coming in and requesting assistance,” explained Cassi Danzl, HAC’s Director of Family and Individuals Services.
The shift is part of a reorganization of HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC). HAC is one of only nine HCECs across Massachusetts and the only one serving Cape Cod and the Islands. Established in 2001, HCECs conduct client intake and referrals, assist with housing search, provide foreclosure and reverse mortgage counseling, and offer financial literacy workshops.
This year, HAC will make several changes to the operation of its HCEC, starting with intake. Until recently, clients would check-in with the receptionist and be referred to HAC’s Liz Belcher, who would identify the proper internal or external program that could best address each person’s needs.
This resulted in a heavy caseload for Belcher, who has worked at HAC for 16 years and sees between 200 and 300 clients per month.
New Intake Coordinators
Under the new system, HAC will have two staff in the entrance area who will serve as intake coordinators, easing Belcher’s caseload. Belcher, who was recently promoted to Information and Client Services Manager, will conduct more intensive casework for clients that need a higher level of support.
In addition to the intake coordinators, Belcher will oversee two new housing counselors that will be added to HAC’s HCEC. These employees will conduct reverse mortgage and foreclosure prevention counseling as well as housing search. Previously, these responsibilities had been divided up among separate staff members.
“There will be less starting and stopping and telling your story multiple times to multiple people,” Danzl said of how this will ultimately benefit clients.
HAC will also be hiring a Regional Trainer who will conduct financial literacy workshops – First-Time Homebuyer, Rebuilding Your Credit, Creating a Budget, Post Purchase, Be a Successful Tenant, Community Resources, and Housing Search – not only at HAC’s Hyannis office, but off-site in communities throughout Cape Cod and the Islands.
All of these behind-the-scenes changes are being made at the same time HAC completes the redesign of its reception area to be more modern and welcoming with resources more readily available to clients. “I’m excited to implement something that we are anticipating is going to drastically improve the service access for people on the Cape and also on both islands,” Danzl said.
housing consumer education,
Family and Individual Services Department,
Over the past nine years, Robert MacCready has headed up HAC’s finance department, but at the end of this month he will step down from his role at HAC where he first served as the agency’s director of finance and then its Chief Financial Officer. Stephen Ferris of Brewster has been hired to succeed him.
MacCready entered the world of housing nonprofits in 2001 after more than 24 years’ experience in the financial sector. He was hired as the director of finance by Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corp., a position he took because of his interest in affordable housing issues and the ability to affect change, particularly for those facing financial difficulties.
In 2004, MacCready and his spouse of 36 years, Linda Cebula, moved to Harwich full-time. Four years later, he joined HAC, shortening his commute and allowing him to make an impact on the region’s housing issues.
In his role at HAC, MacCready has overseen a department that he characterized as “a great group that diligently makes sure all of the agency’s financial activities, from budgets and contracts to bills and payments, have been handled appropriately and any issues are resolved.” He believes the department has played a critical role in the improved financial condition of HAC during his tenure.
MacCready’s commitment to housing issues extended far beyond his 9-to-5 duties at HAC. Not only was he a regular participant during the annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk and a volunteer at HAC’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, but he was a member of the Harwich Community Preservation Committee for roughly nine years. He currently is in his 12th year on the Harwich Housing Authority.
These activities represent his “interest in affordable housing issues,” he said. “And also the feeling that it is good for residents to be involved in their community.”
MacCready is looking forward to life’s next chapter which will allow him and his spouse to continue exploring unique parts of the world. Avid travelers, they plan on visiting Egypt in the spring.
In reflecting on his time at HAC, he said he has enjoyed the opportunity to make a positive difference when it comes to housing on Cape Cod. As to what he will miss about HAC, he was quick to respond. “The people,” he said. “That is what I will miss the most.”
Affordable Housing on Cape Cod,
Housing with love walk,
Shelter Cape Cod Telethon,
Chief Financial Officer,
Community Preservation Committee
|Osterville Men's Club President John Caney (from left) joined fellow members Paul Ruane and his brother Jim Ruane in donating their time to beautify HAC's Angel house shelter at the end of October.
At the end of October, Tim Moran, Peter Holcombe and Don MacDonald quietly and diligently painted the kitchen inside one of the two houses at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis.
The trio were among the 14 members of the Osterville Men’s Club who spent a few hours earlier this fall making small improvements to the shelter which serves mothers overcoming addiction, and their children. They painted two kitchens and installed a new fence, representing their latest project to give back to the community as the club celebrates its 60th year.
In the summer, the club had donated several truckloads of basic home goods – cutlery, dishes, pots, pans, towels, and more – to HAC’s Welcome Home Gift Basket program. Those donations have gone to the agency’s clients transitioning out of shelter and into permanent housing.
Paul Ruane, who has spearheaded many of the club’s 60th anniversary activities, said their latest effort at Angel House was “our day of caring.”
And for the clients at Angel House it had special meaning. “What this does is make the women feel as though they matter,” said Angel House clinical director Martie Woods.
Osterville Men's Club