Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

New Outreach Specialist Dedicated to Helping Cape's Homeless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support HAC's Homeless Outreach Efforts

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

Cape Housing Institute Graduates Over 100 Town Officials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Gift Cards Help Prevent Homelessness

Posted by HAC Staff on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 @ 04:22 PM

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Do you plan on buying a gift card for a loved one this holiday season? If so, you can help prevent homelessness on Cape Cod by purchasing them through the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH).

Every year, DYECH sells gift cards to over 100 stores, restaurants and movie theaters – Best Buy, Amazon, Target, Starbucks and more – that raise funds for HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts.

To purchase gift cards this holiday season visit www.shopwithscrip.com. The enrollment code to support DYECH and HAC is 561B698219989.

Cards can be picked up at Yarmouth Appliance Clinic at 61 White’s Path in Yarmouth one week after you place your order. Make sure to place your order early so you have the cards in time for the holidays!

If you have questions about the program, please email DYECH at dyech@comcast.net

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, Prevention, homelessness prevention, Cape Cod Caring Cards, Gift Cards for prevention

Donor Gives Message of Hope to Angel House Clients

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donate to Angel House

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

HAC Hires New CFO

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

Stephen Ferris.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Waystack: Affordable Housing Champion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why We Give: Homeless Outreach

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

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

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

Support HAC's Homeless Outreach Efforts

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

Cape Housing Institute: The Speakers

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

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

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

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

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

Heather Harper.jpg

Heather Harper
Cape Cod Commission Affodable Housing Specialist
 

Topic: Cape Cod Commission Regional Housing Market Analysis

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

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

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

Topic: Housing Production Plans

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

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

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

Cape Housing Institute: The Participants

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

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

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

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

John Cotton.jpgJohn Cotton
Mashpee Selectman

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

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

Julian Suso.jpgJulian Suso
Falmouth Town Manager

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

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

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

Shop AmazonSmile This Holiday Season

Posted by HAC Staff on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 @ 03:55 PM

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As the holiday season approaches, there is a simple way you can support HAC’s housing programs by shopping online at AmazonSmile. The website (www.smile.amazon.com) operates the same as its parent company, Amazon, does while allowing you to give back to HAC.


Amazon will donate .5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to HAC. All you have to do is log in to AmazonSmile using your Amazon or Amazon Prime account and then designate Housing Assistance Corp. as your charity of choice.

Then comes the fun part: shopping for gifts. By doing so, you will epitomize the spirit of the season – helping those most in need on Cape Cod at a time when they could use it the most.

Tags: Amazon, AmazonSmile, holiday shopping, charitable giving, holiday giving

Editorial: Cape Housing Institute a Step Towards Progress

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 @ 11:29 AM
Cape Housing-3-1.jpgArchitect Rick Fenuccio (left), president of Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Architects, and John Bologna, CEO of Coastal Engineering, are two of the presenters who have lent their expertise to the Cape Housing Institute. 

We kicked off the inaugural Cape Housing Institute this fall and it has been great to see so many town officials take advantage of this training. For instance, Mashpee Selectman John Cotton said he does not have all the answers. That’s why he signed up for the Cape Housing Institute because he told us he has a desire to learn more. 

John is one of roughly 140 officials who are taking part in the institute for similar reasons. They understand a shortage of affordable housing is a problem on Cape Cod, and they want to find ways to address that problem through development that meets the needs of their individual communities.

There are town managers, members of community preservation committees, chairs of local housing authorities, and more, who spend two hours each week to learn about topics such as Chapter 40B, housing production plans, and zoning, to name a few, from local and regional experts in the field of law, design, housing, and development.

Speakers have included Rick Fenuccio, president of Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Architects and Laura Shufelt, assistant director of community assistance at Massachusetts Housing Partnership.

During Rick’s talk, he focused on zoning and ways community leaders can use it as a tool to shape their affordable housing strategy. “Control your own destiny or someone else will,” he said.

Laura spoke about housing production plans, at one point highlighting the importance of both education and advocacy. “Getting leaders, town officials, on board is a great first step,” she said. “Advocates can’t do it alone. We need to have collaboration with lots of folks to get it done.”

We know that solving the Cape’s housing needs will not be immediate. And it cannot be done individually. We believe the institute is a great first step; it’s been encouraging to see that there are so many who fall in line with John Cotton’s way of thinking – that education can lead to progress.

But it does not end with education. We must take what we’ve learned during the housing institute and turn it into positive action. That will require municipal leaders, developers, planners, and the public coming together to take the next steps so we can begin to achieve the type of housing that meets the needs of our community and those who contribute to it.

At the beginning of next year, we will take another step towards progress: Advocacy Training for the general public. We hope you’ll join us.

Cape Housing Institute and Advocacy Training

In the winter of 2018, HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP) in Eastham, will be launching Advocacy Training for the general public. Next year, we will also be bringing back the Cape Housing Institute for municipal officials who were unable to attend our inaugural session.

Click here to learn more about these initiatives and to stay updated on when the next training sessions will begin. 

 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, education, Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, Alisa Galazzi, Cape Housing Institute, Advocacy Training