Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Cape Advocacy Training Inspires Public to Get Involved Locally

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Mar 09, 2018 @ 02:48 PM
Housing Advocacy3-1.jpgHAC Board President Mark Forest (from left), Barnstable Town Councilor Paula Schnepp, and Barnstable Housing Committee member Hilda Haye lead a Cape Housing Advocacy Training session last month. 

Just how bad is the housing situation on Cape Cod and the Islands? Yarmouth Selectman Mark Forest, the chair of HAC’s Board of Directors, termed it a crisis. Forest spoke during Cape Housing Advocacy Training held at Shepley Showcase in Hyannis last month.

Solving that crisis, he said, cannot be done at the federal or state level. “It really today is coming to be a local issue,” he told those in attendance. “We have to deal with this on our watch. And if we don’t, the Cape is going to continue to change in ways that are incredibly dramatic and it will be unlike the kind of Cape Cod that we have grown quite fond of.”

Since last year, HAC has worked with Community Development Partnership (CDP) in Eastham to support communities throughout the Cape in addressing their housing challenges. It started last fall with the Cape Housing Institute, aimed at municipal officials, and expanded last month to Cape Housing Advocacy Training, aimed at the general public.

With workshops so far held on the Mid-Cape, Lower Cape and Outer Cape, advocacy training has been geared to giving residents the tools, resources, support and motivation to speak up in favor of affordable housing projects in their towns. A total of 70 residents have taken part in the sessions with another 40 set to do so on the Upper Cape in Falmouth this month.

Housing Advocacy3-2.jpgBarnstable Housing Committee member Hilda Haye encourage participants in HAC's Cape Housing Advocacy Training to be more active in their community. 

The Mid-Cape workshop began with Paula Hersey, the director of outreach and special projects at Cape Cod Community Media Center, sharing her story about struggling to find housing with her husband in the late 1980s. “We lived above a heroin dealer,” she said. “We moved six times in three years… We ate a lot of Ramen, couch surfed, and lived in unfinished basements. It has not been easy.”

Eventually, they were able to find a place, becoming one of the first homeowners in a Chapter 40B development in Marstons Mills. By telling her story, Hersey said, she hoped to “remove the stigma associated” with affordable housing.

A significant piece of advocacy training was focused on just that – getting residents to speak up at public meetings about why affordable housing is important to them.

Barnstable Town Councilor Paula Schnepp, another speaker, said doing so can make a difference. “It really is helpful that your voice is heard,” she said.

Barnstable Housing Committee member Hilda Haye, also a speaker at the training, said, “it is time for us all to get involved… This is our community that we live in and we need to do something… We all need to play our part.” It is this type of activism that Mark Forest said can make a real difference when it comes to affordable housing. “The reality is that what we do in our towns… is critical in terms of making any real progress,” he said.

To stay up to date on upcoming Cape Housing Advocacy Training sessions, click this link


Tags: Shepley Wood Products, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, affordable housing, Mark Forest, Cape Housing Institute, Community Development Partnership, Cape Community Housing Partnership, Paula Schnepp, Advocacy Training, Hilda Haye, Cape Housing Advocacy Training

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

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