Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

From Homelessness to Hope to Housing

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 @ 09:45 AM
Moriya SmithMoriya Smith with Labouré College President Maureen Smith at her graduation last May. Moriya is now studying for her bachelor's degree. 

Almost 20 years ago, when Moriya Smith was only a teenager, she became homeless, fending not only for herself, but her firstborn son Reggie. “I had to go into a shelter,” she said. “I didn’t have a place to stay. It was horrible, probably the worst experience of my life.”

Today, the pain of that experience has been washed away by the success she has achieved as a single mother – she has two other children Marissa and Maranda – who works full-time as a registered nurse. She is currently studying to earn her bachelor’s degree, and is saving money through HAC’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program to one day become a homeowner on Cape Cod.

Originally from Boston, Smith moved to Brewster nearly two years ago, initially working with HAC to secure a rental. “You helped me with my first and last month’s rent which was a big burden lifted from me,” Smith said. “And then my oldest daughter needed a bed so [HAC] gave me a mattress and box spring… They [HAC] were like my little angels. They really helped me. I was still in school and had not yet finished so I wasn’t working and money was tight, very tight.”

As Smith describes it, money was so tight that while she was working towards her associate’s degree and commuting to Labouré College from Cape Cod to Milton, she sometimes didn’t know if she could pay for the gas to make the trip.

Despite these obstacles, Smith has been able to flourish thanks to those around her who have offered their support.

One of those is HAC’s FSS Coordinator Jan Nelson, who has worked with Smith since she entered the program in September 2016. “I have never met anyone like her who is not only supportive, but caring and who I feel is 100 percent in my corner for everything,” Smith said.

Nelson has provided that support and care through FSS which provides incentives for Section 8 voucher holders to increase their earnings. As one’s income increases, their rent increases, and the difference between the original rent and the increased rent is placed into an escrow account which FSS clients can access once they graduate.

Before Smith graduated from Labouré last May, Nelson recommended her for the One Family Scholarship, given to low-income single parents to further their education. Smith was selected for the scholarship which she is using as she pursues her bachelor’s from Labouré in the hopes of becoming a family nurse practitioner.

In the fall, Smith landed a job as a nurse in a long-term care facility on the Cape, a position that has added financial stability to her life.

When she eventually graduates from FSS, Smith plans on using the money to become a homeowner, something she never could have envisioned two decades ago when she was homeless. “I feel like those things, those unfortunate events in my life have made me strong and made me who I am today,” she said.

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Section 8, Jan Nelson, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Family Self Sufficiency, homelessness, One Family Scholarship, FSS, hope, affordable housing, Moriya Smith, Brewster

Housing Advocacy Training Wraps Up in Falmouth

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Apr 06, 2018 @ 01:47 PM

 

Cape Housing Advocacy-2

HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP) concluded their inaugural Cape Housing Advocacy Training with a one-day session at Falmouth Public Library at the end of last month.

Over 80 people attended the workshops which were also held on the Mid-Cape, Lower Cape and Outer Cape in February. Cape Housing Advocacy was geared towards residents interested in affordable housing and how they can use their voice to speak up in favor of projects that help address the region’s housing issues.

During the workshops, attendees learned what affordable housing is and why it is needed; how to speak at public meetings with confidence; how decisions related to housing are made at the local level; and how people can get involved in their community.

Cape  Housing Advocacy-4

Stefanie Coxe (pictured above), owner of the political consulting firm Nexus Werx LLC, gave residents one way they can get involved immediately. It is by supporting an initiative of SmarterCape Partnership which is working with towns throughout the Cape to modify their Accessory Dwelling Unit bylaw to add to the available supply of housing units without developing more land.

She concluded her presentation by commending people for taking part in the workshop. “I think it’s tremendously brave and important of you to be here because we’re not going to see any changes without people speaking up,” she said.

To learn more about Cape Housing Advocacy Training and to stay updated on future sessions, click this link.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, affordable housing, Falmouth, Community Development Partnership, Advocacy Training, Cape Housing Advocacy Training, Stefanie Coxe

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

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

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

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

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.

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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

How Can I Help with a Gift of Appreciated Stocks?

Posted by HAC Staff on Tue, Dec 26, 2017 @ 10:42 AM

Stock Donation Photo-1.jpg

With the stock market trading at all-time highs, and the possibility that the new tax reform package that was recently passed in Washington, D.C. may limit the benefit next year, now is a terrific time to donate stock to HAC as a year-end gift. Make a bigger impact by donating long-term appreciated stocks directly to HAC. Compared with donating cash, or selling your appreciated securities and contributing the after-tax proceeds, when you donate your stock directly, you may use the full value of your gift as a tax deduction.

If you are interested in donating stocks please contact Margaret Benaka at 508-771-5400 ext. 272 or email mbenaka@haconcapecod.org.

Your end-of-year stock donation will allow us to bolster several HAC initiatives in 2018, including:

  • The second year of our Cape Housing Institute; 
  • Outreach to the homeless on Cape Cod; 
  • Our home repair program
  • And our shelter program which serves nearly 200 families on an annual basis. 

In addition to a gift of stock, you can also make a monetary donation to HAC by clicking here. Your gift will ensure that we can continue to provide safe, secure, decent housing to our neighbors in need. 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, HAC, donations, holiday giving, HAC donors, year-end giving

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