Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Chris Kazarian

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Preventing Homelessness on Cape Cod

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

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

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

Hydrangea Festival Raises Funds for Angel House

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

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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.

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

Voucher Provides Necessary Stability for Vineyard Resident

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

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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, Leased Housing, Martha's Vineyard, Michael Brady, Logan Patrick, 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: Harwich Big Fix, Big Fix, Falmouth Big Fix, volunteer, HAC Volunteers, volunteerism, Mary Everett Patriquin, Romy Maimon, Harwich, Fundraising

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

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

Rockland Trust Gives Back

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 @ 05:25 PM
Rockland-4Rockland Trust Falmouth Branch Supervisor Anna Bowen (left) and Falmouth Branch Manager Becky Harris lending a hand at HAC’s Carriage House shelter. 

During the last week of June, seven Rockland Trust employees opted to leave the confines of their respective offices and enjoy a sunny summer day outside.

They did so to give back to HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth. Over the course of several hours they cleared brush, raked and removed piles of wood in an effort to help beautify the shelter’s grounds.

“It looks like a different place,” said Mindy Caron, the program director at Carriage House. “I honestly felt overwhelmed by their generosity.”

Nanette Davidson, vice president of business banking for Rockland Trust, said that generosity is inherent in the bank’s work. “We are committed to our community and we want to make a difference,” she said.

Throughout the year, Rockland Trust offers its employees multiple opportunities to volunteer and make a difference in their community.

Several branch managers including three from Falmouth – Anne Marie Dillon of East Falmouth, Becky Harris of Falmouth, and Kristen Cassell of North Falmouth – took part in last month’s effort.

The day had extra meaning for Cassell, whose branch is down the street from Carriage House.

“Hopefully, this gives them a little joy,” Cassell said of the mothers staying at the shelter. “We want to give them a nice place to stay, and for us, this is only one day out of our lives and we’re happy to do it.”

Volunteer at HAC

Are you interested in volunteering at Housing Assistance Corporation? Email our Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin at volunteer@haconcapecod.org for info on volunteer opportunities that allow you to make an impact in our community. 

Tags: Carriage House, Rockland Trust, volunteer, HAC Volunteers, volunteering, giving back, Mindy Caron

HAC Adds Fundraising Component to Big Fix

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Jul 24, 2018 @ 12:44 PM
Big Fix Team Leader-3Realtors Lisa Parenteau (left) and Robin Gunderson have signed up as Big Fix Team Leaders for this year's Big Fix in Harwich. 

In an effort to expand the reach of the Big Fix, the agency is seeking Big Fix Team Leaders and Big Fix Fundraising Volunteers to enable HAC to assist more residents, not only during the annual day of service, but throughout the year.

Realtors Lisa Parenteau and Robin Gunderson of Lisa Sells Cape Cod were the first to sign up as Team Leaders at the end of last month. In that capacity, the pair are organizing a Big Fix team that will volunteer their time for this year’s Big Fix in Harwich and also raise funds to not only support the event, but HAC’s programs that serve vulnerable populations on the Cape.

During a Big Fix Team Leader information session at the Harwich Chamber of Commerce in June, HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi spoke about how impactful the Big Fix is. “Last year was transformative,” she said, of the Big Fix which helped seniors, veterans, and disabled homeowners with small home repairs in Falmouth. “Now this year, our personal goal is to be financially in a position that would allow us to do this type of work year-round.”

Parenteau jumped at the opportunity to make a difference on Cape Cod “where there is just a real shortage of housing, in general,” she said. “We really want to be a part of the housing solution, both in selling houses, and in supporting the mission of HAC.”

To learn more about becoming a Big Fix volunteer, click this link. Those who sign up as a Big Fix Team Leader or Fundraising Volunteer by Tuesday, July 31 will receive two free tickets to HAC’s 4th Annual Cape Cod Quahog Challenge on Sunday, August 5, 1-4 pm, at Trader Ed’s in Hyannis.

Tags: Harwich Big Fix, Big Fix, Fundraising, Harwich, Alisa Galazzi

Quahog Challenge Enters Fourth Year

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sat, Jul 21, 2018 @ 07:15 AM
Sea Dog Brew PubSea Dog Brew Pub in Yarmouth is one of several restaurants that will compete in next month’s Cape Cod Quahog Challenge. 

For the first time in its four-year history, a new champion will be crowned at next month’s Cape Cod Quahog Challenge at Trader Ed’s in Hyannis.

Over the past three years, Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar in Eastham has won the coveted title of tastiest stuffed quahog on all of Cape Cod, but the restaurant will not be returning to defend its title. The restaurant’s owner, Nathan Nickerson, and head chef, Susan Buckley, promised that if Arnold’s won three years in a row, they would step aside to give others a chance.

That leaves room for several restaurants in the region to win this year’s prize, including Cape Tip Seafood Market of Truro which came in second place in 2017.

Also returning to compete are Fresh Ketch in Hyannis; Portside Tavern in Hyannis; Sea Dog Brew Pub in Yarmouth; and Trader Ed’s. Joining them are two newcomers, the BaHa Brothers Sandbar Grill in Taunton, as well as Sesuit Harbor Cafe in Dennis.

Restaurants interested in competing can contact HAC’s Event and Resource Development Coordinator Deanna Bussiere at dbussiere@haconcapecod.org or at 508-771-5400, ext. 270.

“The quahog challenge is one of my favorite events of the summer,” said Bussiere. “You get to taste incredible quahog recipes from some of the best chefs on the Cape.”

Along with sampling locally-made stuffies, attendees will get to taste free samples of Polar Cave Ice Cream, free Narragansett Beer for those 21 and over, and enjoy live music from Four Guys Cape Cod. 

Purchase Tickets 

Tags: Cape Cod Quahog Challenge, Quahog Challenge, Quahog, fundraiser, HAC Events, Deanna Bussiere, Trader Ed's, Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar