Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Chris Kazarian

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HAC Supports Falmouth's Most Vulnerable Residents

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 @ 03:58 PM
DSC_0240.jpgHAC Case Manager Deborah McDonnell has been assisting Falmouth residents in need since July as part of a Falmouth Human Services grant to serve those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

In July, HAC began a new program working with the Town of Falmouth’s Human Services Department to prevent homelessness for Falmouth residents. 

Sometimes asking for help can be the hardest part of homelessness prevention. It took one client six weeks to finally summon up the nerve to meet with HAC Case Manager Deborah McDonnell who manages the Falmouth homelessness prevention program. “Every time he tried to come in, there was some excuse, ‘Oh, the car. Oh, this.’ At the point when he came in, he was so ashamed,” she said. “It must have taken so much courage to start telling his story.”

The father, in his 40s, is raising five children on a $4,000 a month salary; his wife is a stay-at-home mother raising their youngest. “His expenses got out of control with the kids,” McDonnell said. “He didn’t know what to do.”

This is just one of the 19 clients McDonnell is currently working with in Falmouth. Of those, six are homeless and the other 13 are at risk of homelessness.

McDonnell has been assisting these clients thanks to a $20,000 grant from Falmouth that covers two days of case management services for Falmouth’s most vulnerable residents who are struggling for a variety of reasons.

When it comes to homelessness, McDonnell said, the first step is addressing the crisis. The next step is to get clients the services they need to provide short-term stability. And the final step is achieving long-term stability.

McDonnell works internally with HAC staff and externally with a variety of agencies, from the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance to Falmouth Human Services to the Falmouth Service Center to Duffy Health Center to Vinfen, to get these clients the help they need to turn their lives around.

“When people ask for help, of course there is help,” McDonnell said. “The thing I say to clients after hearing their story is that this is all going to be a series of steps. I don’t have a magic answer to give to you today. This is all going to be steps.”

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, homelessness prevention, Falmouth, Deborah McDonnell, Falmouth Human Services

HAC and CDP to Launch Cape Housing Institute Next Month

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Sep 08, 2017 @ 05:07 PM
IMG_5763.jpgHAC CEO Alisa Galazzi and Community Development Partnership Executive Director Jay Coburn announce the Cape Housing Institute at the One Cape Summit held in June. 

Next month, a collaborative effort between HAC and Community Development Partnership to address the region’s housing issues will begin in earnest with the launch of the Cape Housing Institute.

Starting on Wednesday, October 11 and running through Thursday, November 16, the institute will provide elected and appointed officials as well as town planning and municipal housing employees throughout Cape Cod the tools and resources they need to support the development of affordable housing in their communities. “This is to help the decision makers who have voting authority on housing projects in their towns,” said HAC’s Director of Community Resources Laura Reckford, who has been involved in the planning of the housing institute.

A total of six sessions will take place, starting with an introduction to affordable housing during the first week. Additional topics include planning; conducting a needs assessment; zoning and site selection; financing affordable housing projects; making the case for affordable housing; the Request For Proposals (RFP) process; and next steps.

HAC and Community Development Partnership have secured 12 speakers, from throughout Cape Cod and Massachusetts, who will provide municipal officials with the education and guidance needed to boost the production of affordable housing in their individual communities in a way that makes sense and which fits the character of their town.

Classes are free and will be held at four separate locations throughout the Cape. Hosts include the Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS in Yarmouth, from 2-4 pm, on Wednesdays; the Mashpee Public Library, from 6-8 pm on Wednesdays; Wellfleet Preservation Hall, from 2-4 pm, on Thursdays; and the Harwich Community Center, from 7-9 pm, on Thursdays.

The institute is the first step of a three-pronged approach that HAC and Community Development Partnership are taking as part of the Cape Community Housing Partnership. The goal is to boost affordable housing production throughout the region in a meaningful way. Next year, the two agencies will launch an advocacy training effort for residents and community leaders as well as a public education campaign to explain the importance of affordable housing on Cape Cod.

Elected and appointed municipal officials or town staff interested in signing up for the Cape Housing Institute can do so by clicking the button below. 

Cape Housing Institute Registration

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Alisa Galazzi, Cape Housing Institute, Community Development Partnership, Cape Community Housing Partnership, Jay Coburn

FSS Program Helps Family Find Perfect Home

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Aug 25, 2017 @ 05:30 PM
Amy Gregoire-Edited2.jpgAmy Gregoire with two of her children, Josie (left) and Susie, at her FSS graduation. Amy and her husband recently moved into a new Habitat for Humanity home in West Yarmouth. 

When Amy Gregoire first met HAC’s Jan Nelson in 2013, the thought of her ever becoming self-sufficient, let alone a homeowner was far-fetched. “I had a subsidized apartment and felt I was so in over my head, I didn’t think I’d ever have the money to move out of there,” Gregoire said. “Jan calmly said, ‘You can do it. If other people can do it, you can do it.’... I know I wouldn’t be sitting here with three jobs and a new house if it wasn’t for [Jan].”

With two of her three children by her side, Gregoire made the statement at HAC’s offices when the agency recently celebrated her graduation from the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. Managed by Nelson, the program provides a road map for those like Gregoire, who have a Section 8 voucher, to increase their income so they can move off of public assistance.

Over the past five years, Gregoire was able to do just that, working three part-time jobs and enrolling at Bristol Community College where she’s studying to be an occupational therapy assistant.

Her busy schedule got even busier this past year when she and her husband Torey spent their weekends helping to build the Habitat for Humanity home they moved into in May. The Gregoires, which include their three daughters Lucie, Josie and Susie, were one of six families selected for newly built Habitat homes on Virginia Street in West Yarmouth.

As part of the FSS program, Gregoire was able to accumulate almost $3,000 in escrow savings and another $5,000 she received for giving up her Section 8 voucher and becoming a homeowner. A portion of that money went towards closing costs as well as some furniture for their new home.

As she described that new home to HAC staff, there was a sense of joy in her voice. “It is less than a mile from the ocean,” Gregoire said. “It is in a nice little neighborhood… It’s on a quiet cul-de-sac. It couldn’t be more perfect.”

Help Families Like This

Tags: Jan Nelson, Family Self Sufficiency, FSS, homeownership, Amy Gregoire

Westwood Troop Donates Bikes to Village at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Aug 21, 2017 @ 04:20 PM
Cataumet Bicycles-1.jpgWestwood Girl Scouts Tessa Scolaro (from left), Maggie Fahey, Jade Landolphi, and Laurel Barnett with HAC’s Paula Mallard. 

Bicycling is one of the simplest and most effective modes of transportation and thanks to the generosity of Girl Scout Troop 75006 of Westwood, clients at The Village at Cataumet now have the ability to use them both for fun and for more practical means.

The scouts – Laurel Barnett, 13, Maggie Fahey, 14, Jade Landolphi, 14, and Tessa Scolaro, 13 - donated a total of 14 bicycles, nine helmets and two bike pumps to the shelter in May. The donations were a mix of children’s and adult bikes; all but one was used and had been checked over by staff at Landry’s Bikes in Norwood or Common Wheels in Allston.

As part of the donation, Arthur Diangelis of Art’s Bike Shop in North Falmouth, has agreed to provide any reasonable repairs over the next two years. And the troop will pay for any smaller replacement parts, including tire tubes or brake pads, that may be needed for those repairs.

As to why the group chose The Village at Cataumet, Troop Leader Amy Barnett said, that they either vacation in this part of Cape Cod or have homes here.

Her daughter said they decided the shelter would be a good fit because the clients lack the means to get to places. “We felt it was important to have bikes for transportation for adults,” Laurel said.

Paula Mallard, the facility director at The Village at Cataumet, said as part of the project the children had an opportunity to learn about the shelter and the people it serves. During those discussions, Mallard told them that many clients have no real way to get around which led to the bike donation. Any client can use the bicycles which will remain the property of the shelter.

Amy Barnett said the project was a rewarding one for the scouts. “I hope they learned that even though they are young, if you have a good idea, you have the ability to actually make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.

Tags: Family Shelter, Paula Mallard, Village at Cataumet, donations, charitable giving

Local Teens Connect with Children at Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Aug 18, 2017 @ 04:33 PM
Angel House Playgroup-1.jpgVolunteer Molly Rudman (left) plays with one of the children at HAC's Angel House shelter. 

Living in a shelter can be difficult for anyone, but it can be especially trying for older children, in part, because they don’t have the luxury of inviting friends over to hang out after school.

But a group of local students, led by Francesca Galazzi, 16, changed that the second half of this past school year. Joined by her sister Michela, 14, and their friends Molly, 16, and Halle Rudman, 15, and Joy McCarthy, 14, the group would spend an hour nearly every Saturday, from March to June, playing with children at HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis.

They planned activities in advance, running them by facility director Lin Rohr. On Mother’s Day weekend, they made cupcakes. On other days, the activity was a little less structured with the group playing on the shelter’s swing set and running around outside.

“I’d be upstairs in my office and I’d hear laughing, giggling, the kids yelling, ‘I’m going to get you,’” Rohr said. “It was a positive experience, not only for the kids who live here, but for all the volunteers.”

Beyond that, Rohr said, it served as an opportunity for children outside of a homeless shelter to connect with those living in one. “For the teenaged volunteers, it breaks down any stereotypes they had about what homelessness looks like,” Rohr said.

One of the teenagers living at Angel House said the Saturday play groups were important to him because it allowed him to socialize with his peers. “Instead of having older volunteers, these ones are our age and we can play with them,” he said. For him that meant games of chess, playing cards and showing them his magic tricks.

“Everyone has different paths, but you can all help each other and have fun,” Francesca said of what she has learned from the experience. And despite being from disparate backgrounds, she said, “we always have fun together. They are really cool kids.”

While Francesca, Michela, Molly, Halle and Joy all took the summer off, they plan on renewing their Saturday play dates at Angel House once school begins in September.

Tags: Family Shelter, Angel House, HAC Volunteers, Lin Rohr

Osterville Men's Club Gives Back to HAC

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 @ 11:02 AM
Osterville Club-1.jpgMike Ingham (from left), Paul Ruane and Jim Ruane of the Osterville Men’s Club helped deliver donations for HAC’s Welcome Home Gift Basket program. 

The Osterville Men’s Club is using its 60th anniversary this year not only as a reason to celebrate, but as cause to give back to the community.

“Sixty is a time in your life when you reflect back and it’s also a time to give back,” said club member Paul Ruane. He was one of four club members who collected a variety of new and used household goods, ranging from lamps to kitchen appliances to towels to bedsheets, which were donated to HAC’s Welcome Home Gift Basket program.

Ruane spearheaded the effort, filling up several truckloads of donations and delivering them to HAC with fellow club members Jim Ruane, Mike Ingham and Jack Mechem. The donations will go to HAC clients who are making the transition from shelter to permanent housing.

This spring, Paul Ruane said, the club also took time to support Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands Meals on Wheels program. And in October, they plan on volunteering a day to make small home improvements to a handful of homes for those in need in the community.

This September, they have invited HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi to speak to the club about the work the agency does.

Click here to learn more about HAC's Welcome Home Gift Basket program and how you or your business can help support our clients in shelter as they transition into permanent housing. 

Tags: Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive, donations, charitable giving, HAC donors, Osterville Men's Club, Welcome Home Gift Basket Program

Walk Celebrates Bob Murray's Passion

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 @ 07:00 AM
HWLW Day Four-2.jpgBernadette (left) and Richard Waystack with Laurie Sexton. Over the past four years the Waystacks have participated in the walk on behalf of HAC. Sexton was walking on behalf of Homeless Not Hopeless. 

Back in 1993, Bob Murray decided to walk from one end of Cape Cod to the other during the height of the summer season, not for himself, but for people in need.

“He was pretty passionate about affordable housing and he obviously felt he had to stand up for people who he felt didn’t have anybody to stand up for them,” said Tony Shepley, owner of Shepley Wood Products, as he helped kick off the fourth day of the 25th Annual Bob Murray Housing with Love Walk.

Though Murray passed away in 2013, he is never far from the minds of those who have continued to walk in his memory. “You can see here today we certainly haven’t lost his spirit,” Shepley said. “I think you can sort of say every step you take, Bob will be stepping beside you, in spirit at least.”

That was certainly true for Richard Waystack of Harwich, who considered Murray a friend and a mentor. On Murray’s final walk, Waystack pushed him 19 miles in a wheelchair. “Bob was a guy who could motivate people to do things and he knew the issues we faced here on Cape Cod going back 30 years,” Waystack said.

This year, he was joined by his wife Bernadette, walking the entire 100 miles, enduring extreme heat and rain all to help raise awareness to the housing issues facing Cape Cod. Rev. John Rice of South Yarmouth, and Nekea Frisbee of Falmouth joined the Waystacks in walking for HAC, helping to raise over $30,000 for the agency’s housing programs on Cape Cod.

“We understand the difficulties of housing here on Cape Cod. I see it. The people who are buying homes are predominantly second homeowners and the pricing has gotten out of hand for many people,” Richard said. “For us, this walk is not only about making people aware about the housing isses and the housing insecurities that we have on Cape Cod, but raising funds to actually combat it.”

Donate to the Walk

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Housing with love walk, Shepley Wood Products, Richard Waystack, Bernadette Waystack, Bob Murray, Tony Shepley

Building a Community in Bourne

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Aug 10, 2017 @ 04:01 PM

Canal Bluffs-22.jpg

Those who attended last month's groundbreaking included Julie Creamer (from left) of POAH; State Representative Randy Hunt; POAH CEO Aaron Gornstein; U.S. Representative Bill Keating; Greg Janey, owner of Janey Construction; MassHousing Executive Director Timothy Sullivan; State Senator Vinny deMacedo; HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi; and Chrystal Kornegay, undersecretary for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

When HAC and the Preservation Of Affordable Housing (POAH) completed Clay Pond Cove in Bourne five years ago, Nancy Nygard became its first resident.

Since then, she has found it to be more than a home. It’s a community where her neighbors have become her friends. “It is wonderful,” she said. “Everyone cares for each other.”

During last month’s groundbreaking for what will be the final of three phases of a mixed-income housing development HAC and POAH are building at this 19-acre site, property manager Karen Kelley of POAH Communities said this is an example of what residents really cherish here. “A lot of people want a home to be a nice, safe place, and for there to be a strong sense of community,” she said. “Those things are really important to people.”

That is what the residents living in the 28 affordable apartments at Canal Bluffs and the 45 individual, family and senior apartments at Clay Pond Cove have experienced. And that is what HAC and POAH hope to provide with the remaining 44 affordable and market rate townhouse-style apartments that will be built over the next year as part of Canal Bluffs III.

When complete, Canal Bluffs will have allowed “117 families who get to live here an opportunity to come home, put their groceries away, and have a safe place to rejuvenate where their children can launch their dreams and where families can live their lives on beautiful Cape Cod,” said HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi.

Canal Bluffs-4.jpgNancy Nygard (left) with Cathie Michel, friends and neighbors who have discovered a sense of community at Canal Bluffs. 

She and several other speakers credited HAC founder Rick Presbrey, who attended the ceremony, for making the project possible. The site was once slated to become an office building for a failed dot com company before businessman Bill Zammer of Mashpee, purchased it in the hopes of turning it into a housing development.

That plan never came to fruition. Presbrey was able to work out a deal with Zammer for HAC to purchase the property for $2.1 million. Presbrey then came to an agreement with the town that allowed HAC and POAH to turn the site into an affordable housing development that has added to the Cape’s rental stock.

“And to you, Rick, for what you have done over 43 years in this region providing housing for people that is one of the most basic needs we can have in our lives and understanding the significance of that,” State Senator Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo said. “You have left a huge legacy . . . and I apologize that people will not even know who made that difference for them, but for those of us today we know it was you and we thank you so much for your efforts on all these people’s behalf.”

U.S. Representative William Keating said the project fills a critical need for moderate and affordable housing on Cape Cod, allowing people who work here to live here. He said it was a project made possible through the cooperation of federal, state, local, and nonprofit agencies all coming together towards a common aim.

State Representative Randy Hunt said projects like this are a critical piece to preserving the character of Cape Cod. “I’m glad people are really united in getting in front of [these issues] and are starting to put more of this type of housing into the market which will allow the working class people to live here,” he said.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Bourne, Rick Presbrey, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Alisa Galazzi, Canal Bluffs, POAH, rental housing, Bill Keating

HAC Seeks Volunteers for Falmouth Big Fix

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Aug 08, 2017 @ 03:23 PM
Big_Fix_Brewster_-_1.jpgHAC is seeking volunteers for its 8th Annual Big Fix which is coming to Falmouth on Saturday, September 16. 

If there was ever a question as to the need for the Big Fix, it was erased when HAC received a record 65 applications from Falmouth homeowners.

“There was a huge response,” said HAC’s Director of Community Relations Laura Reckford. “Now we need volunteers so that we can help as many applicants as possible.”

Now in its eighth year, the Big Fix relies on volunteers to make small home repairs for income-eligible veterans, seniors and disabled homeowners in one town on Cape Cod. It started in Barnstable in 2010 and has since been to Sandwich, Dennis, Mashpee, Yarmouth, Bourne, and, last year, Brewster. This year’s Big Fix is scheduled for Saturday, September 16.

“The Big Fix is volunteer-powered,” said HAC’s Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin. “There would be no Big Fix without the volunteers.”

HAC is seeking both skilled and unskilled volunteers who will tackle such projects as landscaping; trash removal; repairing stairs, fences, decks, and outdoor walkways; interior and exterior painting; roofing; light carpentry; and basic plumbing and electrical work.

Volunteer for the Falmouth Big Fix

  • You can sign up as a Volunteer or,
  • Sign up as a Fundraising Volunteer (either as a team or individually) or,
  • Do both!

The deadline to register is Friday, September 1. Click the green button below to get started!

Register To Volunteer

The Big Fix will kick off with registration at 8 am at the Lawrence School on Lakeview Avenue in Falmouth. A light breakfast will be provided by Whole Foods Market in Hyannis and Beanstock Coffee in Wellfleet. Following a short ceremony, volunteers will depart to their assigned homes by 9 am. The majority of the work will be completed by noon at which time all volunteers are invited back to the Lawrence School for a lunch provided by 99 Restaurants in Falmouth.

Satisfaction from Helping Others

Everett-Patriquin said one of the most rewarding aspects of the Big Fix is that volunteers get to see the fruits of their labor almost immediately. “I think people get a deep sense of satisfaction from the knowledge that they’ve helped someone in need,” she said. “And I think another part of it is that people get a lot of satisfaction out of the teamwork aspect of it. Sometimes people are serving with a group and it’s a real bonding experience for them.”

This year, HAC has added an opportunity for volunteers to enhance their impact even further by signing up as fundraisers as part of the first-ever Fix-a-Thon.
Funds raised will not only help to offset the nearly $50,000 it costs to organize the Big Fix, but to help address the need witnessed by the large number of recipient applications HAC received.

The Fix-a-Thon will support HAC’s efforts to keep residents in their homes through the agency’s homelessness prevention program, and bolster its foreclosure and reverse mortgage counseling as well as its weatherization program for low-income households. It will also allow HAC to expand its home repair program which would enable the agency to cast a wider net in helping the types of people the Big Fix serves on a year-round basis.

Volunteers who raise $250 or more will receive a special prize and be recognized at the Big Fix kickoff on September 16.

Tags: Mary Everett Patriquin, Fundraising, Big Fix, HAC Volunteers, 99 Restaurant, Falmouth, Laura Reckford, Falmouth Big Fix, Whole Foods, Fix-A-Thon

HAC and CDP Launch Cape Housing Institute

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Aug 04, 2017 @ 11:37 AM
Housing Conference-2-1.jpgHAC CEO Alisa Galazzi and Community Development Partnership Executive Director Jay Coburn announced the collaboration between their two agencies at the One Cape Summit in June. 

HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi and Community Development Partnership (CDP) Executive Director Jay Coburn have announced a collaboration between their two agencies that would address the challenges local municipalities face due to the shortage of affordable housing on Cape Cod.

Together, HAC and CDP are forming the Cape Community Housing Partnership, a three-tiered strategy aimed at increasing the region’s affordable housing capacity. The first prong of that strategy, the Cape Housing Institute, will be launched this fall with the second and third – advocacy training and a public education campaign – to begin in 2018.

The Housing Institute will provide technical training and education to elected and appointed municipal leaders and town staff so they can learn how to help address their community’s affordable housing needs through land-use policy and other planning tools. The curriculum is being developed with support from Massachusetts Housing Partnership.

The six-week course is scheduled to take place from October 11 to November 16, with sessions offered Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 4 pm and 6 to 8 pm in the Upper Cape, Mid-Cape, Lower Cape and Outer Cape.

The Housing Institute will be a way for municipalities on Cape Cod to work in concert with one another as they learn the ins and outs of affordable housing development. Galazzi stressed that those needs can best be addressed collectively, with towns on Cape Cod working together to deal with the shortage of housing. “This really is a regional issue,” Galazzi said.

Moving the Needle

Coburn seconded that point by highlighting statistics from the Cape Cod Regional Housing Market Analysis that is currently being undertaken by the Cape Cod Commission. That study, Coburn said, shows, “we need 22,000 units that are affordable ownership units. And we also need 5,000 more affordable rental units and another 2,700 units to accommodate future growth.” 

To accomplish any of that – “to move the needle,” as Galazzi said – will require a cohesive, collaborative effort among all Cape Cod towns.

That was an argument backed by Michael Crane at One Cape, a two-day symposium organized by the Cape Cod Commission in June where Galazzi and Coburn announced the partnership between their two agencies. Crane's Vermont-based company, Crane Associates, is working with the commission to conduct the regional housing market analysis for the Cape. What that study has found, Crane said, is that "You have 15 independent municipalities making decisions, but I still don’t see who is going to tie them all together." 

The Cape Housing Institute is one way that HAC and CDP are attempting to solve that problem. 

Sponsors for the Cape Housing Institute include Shepley Wood Products, Cape & Islands United Way, Cape & Islands License Plate Fund, and the Estate of Bernard Kaplan.

Tony Shepley, owner of Shepley Wood Products, explained his support of the Institute this way: “The lack of affordable housing on Cape Cod is a major challenge for local employers. At Shepley, we believe that our employees should be able to live where they work, so we are committed to supporting this effort to help our Cape Cod towns be able to increase affordable year-round housing in a way that also preserves the unique character of this peninsula.”

To learn more about the Cape Housing Institute or to register for the upcoming fall session, click the blue button below. 

Cape Housing Institute 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, affordable housing, Alisa Galazzi, Cape Housing Institute, Community Development Partnership, Cape Community Housing Partnership, Jay Coburn