Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Holiday Giving: A Tree of Presents

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 04:51 PM
Whole Foods-1.jpgHAC'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. 

Tags: Deanna Bussiere, donations, giving, holiday giving, HAC donors, Whole Foods, 2017 Holiday Giving

Holiday Giving: No Yankee Swap 

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 04:43 PM
Dooley Family.jpgCindy (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.”

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Holiday Drive, donations, giving, charitable giving, holiday giving, 2017 Holiday Giving

Editorial: Spirit of the Season

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 04:09 PM

Galazzi_HACbeat (2017).jpg

This was my first Christmas as CEO of Housing Assistance Corporation and I am awestruck by the generosity of the community towards our clients, many of whom are families in shelter and those on the edge of homelessness, struggling just to get by.

People give to Housing Assistance Corporation in all kinds of ways this time of year, from the elderly lady in Harwich who knits hats and scarves for our families to the many people who sponsor a needy family at Christmas to make sure they have gifts under the tree.

Businesses like Snow’s in Orleans, Whole Foods in Hyannis and Starbuck’s in Mashpee and Hyannis all run holiday drives for our clients, as do students and others throughout the Cape. We are so grateful for this outpouring of giving from hundreds of anonymous individuals.

One local mother whose family received Christmas gifts from one of our generous donors this year wrote this eloquent note as a thank you and I think it captures the spirit of the season:

To the Family that so graciously helped my family at Christmas time,

It’s extremely difficult to put into words how grateful I am for your generosity and care. The heartwarming feeling is completely overwhelming.

My daughters and I have been through a great deal of struggle, cold nights, hungry days, and with a lot of encouragement and support I’ve worked hard to get past those times to try and ensure that doesn’t happen again. We are still struggling a bit.

It’s very difficult to pay the rent, keep food on the table, keep a warm house, buy the warm coats, pay all the bills, support all the activities that active growing girls come with, and provide a Christmas—even if you have girls who don’t ask for much. However, when you have girls who make Honor Roll, stay positive through so much negative, show so much love and support no matter what, are grateful for all they have (and don’t have) and try their hardest (always), that makes me want to provide a Christmas that they aren’t asking for, even when I really can’t.

When I am trying 110% and still falling somewhat short, and someone else steps in to help out at this time of year, to help give my daughters a little more joy during their Christmas, it feels so wonderful.

They know the meaning of Christmas. They understand it’s not about presents under the tree, or big shiny boxes or bags or fancy labels or what you get or don’t get. It’s about who you have around you, the love you feel, what you’re able to do for others, the peace you bring, the joy you can spread, the happiness and joy that you share with others; being with family, friends, and loved ones.

Please do understand just how thankful I am for all of your help—your help and support during this time is exactly the kind of love and support that my daughters strive to give back to our community in every way they can on their own level. May all your hopes for the New Year come true.

From all of us at Housing Assistance Corporation, best wishes for the New Year.


Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, donations, Alisa Galazzi, charitable giving, holiday giving

Sachem's Path Now Complete

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jan 17, 2018 @ 04:38 PM

Sachems Streetscape.jpg

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.

Tags: Nantucket, Bourne, Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Sachems Path, Sandy Horvitz, Canal Bluffs, Housing Development, affordable homeownership, Renee Ceely

Cape Housing Advocacy Training in February

Posted by Laura Reckford on Fri, Jan 05, 2018 @ 04:30 PM
Cape Housing Institute-2017-2.jpgCommunity leaders take part in the Cape Housing Institute last fall. HAC and Community Development Partnership will be launching Advocacy Training next month for the general public. 

Cape Cod residents will get an opportunity to learn how to speak up at public meetings about the lack of affordable housing in the region at a series of workshops coming up in February. Advocacy Training is being presented by Housing Assistance Corporation, along with the Community Development Partnership, a nonprofit based in Eastham.

The two agencies have partnered on a three-part initiative called Cape Community Housing Partnership. Part one of the partnership was the Cape Housing Institute, which took place this past fall and trained more than 100 municipal leaders and staff about affordable housing development. Advocacy Training is the second part of the partnership. The third part is a media campaign which will debut in the spring.

Advocacy Training will be free and open to Cape residents who have struggled or are struggling with the lack of affordable housing in the region. Attendees can either attend a series of three workshops, each 90 minutes long, in the Mid-Cape or Outer Cape; or they can attend a five-hour workshop offered in the Upper Cape and Lower Cape on a Saturday in February.

The sessions will include information about affordable housing on Cape Cod and why there is a shortage of affordable housing in the region. There will be an explanation of how town government works and how citizens can participate in meetings where decisions are being made about affordable housing. Attendees will learn the facts about affordable housing and how to debunk myths and negative stereotypes about affordable housing. The class will also learn public speaking tips; how to organize; and how to become advocates of affordable housing.

Click here to find all the details on Cape Housing Advocacy Training, as well as a form to receive information about upcoming sessions.

Planning Underway for Year Two of Housing Institute

The Cape Housing Institute will hold its second session in the fall of 2018. The Institute is open to appointed and elected municipal officials and town planning staff.

The inaugural six-week Cape Housing Institute, which took place this past October and November, trained more than 100 town officials about affordable housing. Through surveys given prior to the class, attendees stated that they hoped to learn about financing opportunities; regional efforts; the 40B process; affordable rentals; how to work with developers; and about the development process, among other topics. Lack of affordable land and lack of political will were among the barriers to creating affordable housing in their towns, attendees stated.

Feedback from the 2017 Housing Institute:
  • “Terrific overview”
  • “Really well-planned and executed”
  • “Excellent initiative”
  • “Speakers were very interesting”
  • “Highly recommend!”

Sign up here or click the blue button below to keep informed about the Cape Housing Institute.

Cape Housing Institute 

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, Advocacy Training

HAC Restructures HCEC to Better Serve Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 05, 2018 @ 01:51 PM
Liz Belcher-1.jpgLiz 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. 

Tags: HCEC, Liz Belcher, HAC, housing consumer education, financial literacy, Family and Individual Services Department, Cassi Danzl, Intake Coordinators, intake

MacCready Says Farewell to HAC

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sun, Dec 31, 2017 @ 04:00 AM

Bob MacCready.jpg

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.”

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Housing with love walk, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Harwich, Chief Financial Officer, Robert MacCready, Community Preservation Committee

Osterville Men's Club Give Back to Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sat, Dec 30, 2017 @ 08:42 PM
Osterville-1.jpgOsterville 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. 

Donate to Angel House

Tags: Family Shelter, Angel House, donations, charitable giving, HAC donors, Osterville Men's Club

Editorial: Housing Development Strategy

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Fri, Dec 29, 2017 @ 03:54 PM

Galazzi_HACbeat (2017).jpg

One of my priorities when I came on board at Housing Assistance Corporation last January was to review the agency’s real estate holdings and evaluate their financial viability. This evaluation, coupled with a needs assessment, will lay the foundation for HAC’s long-term housing production strategy and future planning efforts.

Over our 40 years on Cape Cod, Housing Assistance Corporation has developed 500 units of affordable housing. We have partnered with the nonprofit POAH (Preservation of Affordable Housing) on several recent projects, including the award-winning Melpet Farms rental housing complex in Dennis; Canal Bluffs 3 in Bourne, which is currently under construction; and Brewster Woods in Brewster, which is in pre-development.

HAC also owns well-regarded affordable housing rental developments, Kimber Woods and Lombard Farms, both in West Barnstable, as well as Southside Village in Hyannis.

Melpet Farm-2.jpgThe Residences at Melpet Farms in Dennis, completed in 2015. 

We also own a 40-acre site in Sandwich with one home on it, as well as three family shelters and a few apartment complexes, condominiums, duplexes and a single-family home.

Over the next year, we will have completed an evaluation of all of our assets and we will be ready to implement new initiatives.

One new idea our Housing Development Department is pursuing is the development of multi-family housing in “pocket” neighborhoods on appropriate sites that could support up to 10 one- and two-bedroom units. These small developments will replicate old-style neighborhoods with homes surrounding a community green.

Here at Housing Assistance Corporation, we want to continue to be a part of the solution to the shortage of housing in the region while continuing to help our most vulnerable residents. We will continue to explore different ways to fulfill our mission. On behalf of our clients—more than 5,300 last year on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket—thank you so much for your support of Housing Assistance Corporation during the holidays and all year-round.

Tags: Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Melpet Farm Residences, Alisa Galazzi, Canal Bluffs, POAH, Housing Development, Kimber Woods, Lombard Farms, Editorial

Donor Spotlight: Jim and Helen Wick

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Dec 28, 2017 @ 06:32 PM
The Wicks-1.jpgJim and Helen Wick have been supporters of HAC for over 25 years.

By the time Jim and Helen Wick moved to West Dennis in 1983, they were officially retired. Fast forward nearly 35 years later and the couple could not be busier.

“When you retire, you don’t retire from living,” Helen explained at the end of last month inside their condo at Mill Hill Residence in West Yarmouth. “It frees time to participate in things you are really interested in.”

“I’ve been retired more than I’ve worked,” her husband of 65 years added. “Retirement is kind of like a second career… When you’ve been retired for 35 years, you want to keep your life kind of meaningful. One of the ways you can do it in a good way is associating with nonprofits.”

The Wicks have a list of several nonprofits on Cape Cod – the Dennis Conservation Trust, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Cape Symphony, and CHAMP Homes – that align with their passion for giving back to the community they live in.

HAC is one of those nonprofits at the top of this list. “I think HAC is probably one of the most innovative nonprofits I have ever witnessed,” said Jim. Over the past 25 years, the Wicks have backed up their belief in HAC’s mission by donating thousands of dollars to support the agency’s work.

Whether it’s developing affordable housing, providing educational workshops to first-time homebuyers, or offering shelter to young mothers facing homelessness, the Wicks had high praise for the wide-range of programs HAC offers that benefits those of all income ranges on Cape Cod.

Jim, who served on the Dennis Housing Authority for several years, has long maintained an interest in housing. Having the ability to support an agency like HAC whose focus is on this sector has been rewarding for him and his wife.

“There’s such a shortage of affordable housing here and young people are moving out,” said Jim, who will be turning 93 on Christmas Day.

At their age, the Wicks are showing no signs of slowing down. They hope they will inspire others to find ways they can give back, whether it’s through donations of time, money or talent. “If this encourages somebody else to donate, that would be great,” Helen said.

Make A Donation

Why We Give: The Wicks

In the early 1990s, Jim and Helen Wick attended a fundraising dinner organized by the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH), serving as their first introduction to HAC.

That dinner was where they met HAC founder Rick Presbrey and began to learn about the agency’s work which encompasses everything from operating four shelters for homeless families to developing affordable housing for low- and middle-income residents.

While the couple expressed an affinity for HAC’s broad expanse of programs, it was homelessness prevention that was the entrée for the Wick’s longtime support of the agency.

Since 1993, DYECH has raised more than $1.5 million that has provided one-time emergency funds for families, allowing them to stay in their homes and off the streets.

In addition to organizing dinners and concerts, DYECH sells gift certificates to participating grocery stores such as Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, CVS, and Whole Foods which help prevent homelessness on Cape Cod. DYECH also sells gift cards to a variety of popular stores – Amazon, iTunes, Target, Gap, and more – that raises funds for HAC’s prevention efforts.

To learn more about how you can purchase a gift card to support HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts email dyech@comcast.net

Tags: DYECH, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, homelessness prevention, Philanthropy, donations, charitable giving, HAC donors, Jim and Helen Wick