Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

HAC Supports Homeless During Arctic Blast

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Feb 08, 2018 @ 05:24 PM
Derick Bussiere-Edited (2718).jpgHomeless Outreach Specialist Derick Bussiere was one of four HAC staffers to assist the region’s homeless during last month’s stretch of frigid temperatures. 

The start of the new year brought with it one of the longest stretches of sub-freezing weather Cape Cod has seen in recent years. While many were able to retreat safely into the comfort of their own homes, there were some in the region who did not have that luxury.

Understanding the danger facing the Cape’s homeless, HAC lent its expertise and resources to a regional effort to get these individuals off the street and into temporary housing. “This was a result of the community, social service agencies, and the town coming together within probably a 24- to 48-hour window and putting together a plan so it would run as smoothly as possible,” HAC Homeless Outreach Specialist Derick Bussiere said. “It was really about life and death.”

The plan involved HAC and several social service agencies – Vinfen, Duffy Health Center, St. Joseph’s House, and the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod – working closely with the Barnstable Police Department, the Town of Barnstable, and local churches to identify homeless individuals on the streets and woods of Cape Cod and moving them into area motels.

Funding for the temporary motel stays was provided by the Barnstable Police Department as well as Duffy Health Center’s In From the Streets, a program started in 2005 to support the homeless.

"It was more than likely people would have died. It was that cold out."

- Ann Marie Peters

HAC’s Homeless Outreach team, which includes Bussiere, Deborah McDonnell and Shannon Tracy, were joined by HAC Assistant Director of Family and Individuals Services Ann Marie Peters in conducting assessments and outreach to homeless individuals staying in hotels. They also provided transportation for the homeless to get to the hotels. 

Bussiere estimated that over 30 homeless individuals were placed in area motels, some for as long as 10 days, to keep them safe from the arctic temperatures. 

Last month’s weather, Bussiere said, enabled HAC staff to reconnect with some of the region’s chronic homeless who are typically harder to reach. “It does bring some of them out of the woodwork where we as outreach workers are able to try and engage with the individuals at that time they’re in the hotel or shelter,” he said. “After the weather gets nicer, they may disappear, but at least we’re able to make contact and put a name to a face and start building a relationship for when the individual is ready to try and get services.” 

The most important aspect of the community effort, Peters said, is that everyone had access to safe, secure housing, even if it was temporary. “What would have happened had this group not coordinated services for this population?” she asked. “It is more than likely people would have died. It was that cold out. It was well below freezing and there were many people who would have passed away because they didn’t have adequate shelter.” 

In the spring, HAC will join the community groups and agencies involved in last month’s response to identify a long-term plan moving forward.

Support HAC's Homeless Outreach Efforts

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, homelessness, Derick Bussiere, winter, Deborah McDonnell, homeless outreach, Barnstable CCIT, Shannon Tracy, Ann Marie Peters

Donor Spotlight: Paul Hebert

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 26, 2018 @ 03:48 PM
Paul Hebert-1.jpgMatt Pitta (left), co-host of last month's Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, interviews longtime HAC supporter Paul Hebert about the region's housing issues. 

When Paul and Carolyn Hebert arrived on Cape Cod in 1981 with their three daughters Aimee, Mary and Meg, finding a home was difficult. “We had to rent for two years because we couldn’t find housing we could afford,” he said. 

Fast forward 36 years later and Paul admitted the situation is even worse. “It was unreasonably high to buy a house back then, but now for people earning basic wages it is nearly impossible and getting more difficult every day,” he said.

It is for this reason that the Heberts have given to HAC for 20 years, highlighted by their most recent $1,000 donation to the agency at its 14th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon last month. Paul made the donation on-air on behalf of the couple’s company, Charitable Redemption Partnership in Yarmouth, which utilizes proceeds from redeemable cans and bottles to support local charities on the Cape such as HAC.

“As a town councilor in Barnstable, I look to Housing Assistance Corporation as the best prepared to care for the least among us who need housing,” Paul said of his longtime support of the agency.

Paul’s history with HAC goes back to the mid-1980s when he convinced former CEO and founder Rick Presbrey to open the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis to provide emergency shelter for homeless individuals.

In 1991, the Heberts took their activism a step further when they started CHAMP Homes to care for homeless adolescents. “We realized there was more to be done and came to understand that there was this next group that was not being served,” Paul explained. “It was the young people, around 18 years of age, who were sleeping in various places in the community whether it was teaming up six to an apartment or couch surfing or sleeping in cars or the woods just to survive.”

The Heberts spent the next 24 years at CHAMP Homes and were recognized for their efforts with the Presbrey Public Service Award in 2006 at HAC’s Annual Meeting.

Though Paul and his wife stepped down from CHAMP Homes in 2015, he remains as passionate about housing issues as he did when he was first introduced to HAC three decades ago. And he views HAC as a pivotal player in addressing those issues on Cape Cod. “I believe Housing Assistance Corporation is a standard bearer,” Paul said. “They hold the flag to deal with this battle so we have to keep supporting them.”

Why I Give: Paul Hebert

As a Barnstable Town Councilor, Paul Hebert paints a grim picture of the housing reality on Cape Cod. “Living on Cape Cod is not a realistic dream for most people,” he said. 

This is why he believes housing development – building more affordable rentals and homes for the Cape’s workforce – is the region’s primary need. “We know Barnstable is short 1,200 rental units,” he said.

Hebert supports HAC because he understands it is best suited to address this need. “We have to build so many rentals and we are so far behind. I don’t know of any other organization that can do a better job and has the capacity to help than Housing Assistance Corporation,” he said.

With the completion of Sachem’s Path on Nantucket, HAC has developed more than 500 units of affordable housing since its inception. It is in the midst of constructing 44 apartments in Bourne and is in the planning stages of building eight affordable and workforce apartments in Hyannis.

Through the Cape Community Housing Partnership, a joint initiative between HAC and Community Development Partnership in Eastham, it is also providing community leaders and residents with the tools to boost affordable housing that is sorely needed in the region.

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Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, homelessness, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Rick Presbrey, Housing on Cape Cod, Paul Hebert, CHAMP Homes, Charitable Redemption Partnership

Community Leaders, Clients Featured at Annual Telethon

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Jan 25, 2018 @ 05:39 PM
Shelter Email-1.jpgTwo Angel House clients, Samantha (second from right) and Jeana (right), had an opportunity to share their powerful, touching stories on-air at HAC’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon.

Since last January, 30-year-old Samantha has been at HAC’s Angel House where she lives with her six-month-old son. “Angel House, I would say, has given me, me back,” she said during last month’s 14th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon which was televised on cable access channels Cape-wide. 

Samantha was one of several clients who told their story during the telethon. The annual event raises funds for the agency’s programs and brings awareness to the work HAC is doing to provide housing services and solutions to those most in need on Cape Cod and the Islands.

The telethon raised nearly $75,000. The funds will allow HAC to help those like Samantha who had struggled with addiction for roughly 15 years. “I am 16 months clean today,” she said. “It has been a really long ride and it’s been really difficult… Last year I was in a sober house and became pregnant early in my sobriety. I made the decision to move to Angel House. Coming to Angel House was probably the best decision I have ever made in my entire life.”

Telethon co-host Matt Pitta told viewers that these types of stories are an important reminder of “how the money you folks have donated over the years has made a huge difference, a real difference, in people’s lives.”

2017-Shelter-Telethon.jpgTelethon Co-Host Mindy Todd interviews State Representative Sarah Peake who reminded the audience that housing is not a town issue, but a Cape-wide issue that is affecting the entire region. 

HAC has made a difference, CEO Alisa Galazzi said, by providing clients with safe, stable housing. “That is what our mission is: keep them safe, get them housed, but really help take them to the next level in their life.

“You’ve got to have housing,” she continued. “It’s a basic human need, and from housing we can talk about jobs. We can talk about health care. We can talk about living the life you want to live.”

This year’s telethon allowed not only HAC clients to tell their story, but HAC staff, including homeless outreach specialists Derick Bussiere and Deborah McDonnell, and Paula Mallard, the facility director at the Village at Cataumet.

The telethon also featured an array of guests – State Senator Julian Cyr, Duffy Health Center CEO Heidi Nelson, and Paula Schnepp, coordinator for the Cape and Islands Regional Network to Address Homelessness, among others – who are taking steps to address the region’s housing needs.

State Representative Sarah Peake was one of those guests who underscored the importance of that work. “I can’t tell you, especially at this time of year when it gets cold, how many people are either homeless or one rent check away from becoming homeless,” she said. “I’m here to make the point for the people who are watching that this is not a Mid-Cape issue. This is not an Upper Cape issue. This is a Cape-wide issue.”

Support HAC's Homeless Shelters

 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Mindy Todd, Angel House, Matt Pitta, affordable housing, Alisa Galazzi, Sarah Peake

Holiday Giving: A Birthday Wish

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 05:05 PM

Ariel Martynyak-Edited.jpg

Throughout the year, our donors give to our clients in a variety of ways. That giving is always magnified during the holiday season. The following are a few of the heartwarming stories of how those young and old, local businesses, and families took time to remember those we serve last month. 

Last month, Ariel Martynyak celebrated her 7th birthday by donating her gifts to children in need. “I wanted to donate this to other kids,” said Ariel, a first grader at West Villages Elementary School in Barnstable.

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

Holiday Giving: Realtors Give Back

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 04:57 PM
Realtors Gift Baskets (December 2017).jpgCape Cod & Island's Associaton of Realtors Patricia Pry (left) real estate agents joined Sarah Lapsley (second from right) and her husband Gregory Martin in dropping off donations to HAC's Mary LeClair last month. 

For the fourth straight year, the Cape Cod & Island’s Association of Realtors (CCIAOR) Young Professionals Network worked with local Realtors to collect items for our Welcome Home Gift Basket Program. The donations - 10 laundry baskets full of basic home goods – will be given to our clients in shelter when they make the transition into permanent housing. CCIAOR Member Programs Director Patricia Pry dropped off the donations to HAC’s Mary LeClair along with Sarah Lapsley and Gregory Martin of Kinlin Grover Real Estate in Yarmouth Port. 

Tags: Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive, donations, charitable giving, holiday giving, Mary LeClair, Cape Cod & Islands Associaton of Realtors, HAC donors, Welcome Home Gift Basket Program, 2017 Holiday Giving

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