Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Editorial: Meaningful Impact of Canal Bluffs

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 @ 11:52 AM
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One of the highlights for me last month at HAC was the groundbreaking at Canal Bluffs, which is the third phase of what will be 117 mixed-income housing units in the Town of Bourne.

We have had a lot of cloudy and rainy days this summer, but the day of the groundbreaking dawned clear and the ceremony took place under beautiful sunny skies. It was an apt metaphor for the project which brings affordable, workforce and market-rate apartments for families and seniors in a residential community off MacArthur Boulevard in Pocasset.

The project continues the partnership that HAC has forged with POAH (Preservation of Affordable Housing) in the development and management of affordable housing throughout the Cape.

We all know about the shortage of affordable housing in the region, but Congressman Bill Keating, the keynote speaker for the event, talked about what a project like this does for the economy, not just in the short-term, in providing construction jobs, but in the long-term for the workforce who live in the homes.

We have long been working to get the word out to the community that people who live in developments like Canal Bluffs are our neighbors, friends and family. Based on recent housing lotteries HAC has conducted for rental and homeownership units throughout the region, the people who live in affordable housing work as waitresses, construction workers, dental hygienists, bookkeepers, mechanics, handymen, truck drivers, legal secretaries, plumbers, bartenders, personal trainers and teachers, to name just a few professions. They are the people who make the Cape’s economy thrive.

During the Canal Bluffs ceremony, I took the opportunity to give credit for the project to HAC’s founder and CEO Emeritus, Rick Presbrey. He had the vision and foresight to put the deal together. Over the past four decades, HAC has brought over 500 affordable units to our region.

The best part of it all is that after the third phase of Canal Bluffs is completed, 117 families get the opportunity to live here, the opportunity to come home, to put their groceries away and have a safe place to rejuvenate, where their children can launch their dreams and where families can live their lives on beautiful Cape Cod.

Click this link to learn more about the Canal Bluffs groundbreaking and what the development means to the residents that live there. 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Bourne, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, affordable housing, Alisa Galazzi, Canal Bluffs, POAH, Preservation Of Affordable Housing

HAC and CDP Launch Cape Housing Institute

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Aug 04, 2017 @ 11:37 AM
Housing Conference-2-1.jpgHAC CEO Alisa Galazzi and Community Development Partnership Executive Director Jay Coburn announced the collaboration between their two agencies at the One Cape Summit in June. 

HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi and Community Development Partnership (CDP) Executive Director Jay Coburn have announced a collaboration between their two agencies that would address the challenges local municipalities face due to the shortage of affordable housing on Cape Cod.

Together, HAC and CDP are forming the Cape Community Housing Partnership, a three-tiered strategy aimed at increasing the region’s affordable housing capacity. The first prong of that strategy, the Cape Housing Institute, will be launched this fall with the second and third – advocacy training and a public education campaign – to begin in 2018.

The Housing Institute will provide technical training and education to elected and appointed municipal leaders and town staff so they can learn how to help address their community’s affordable housing needs through land-use policy and other planning tools. The curriculum is being developed with support from Massachusetts Housing Partnership.

The six-week course is scheduled to take place from October 11 to November 16, with sessions offered Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 4 pm and 6 to 8 pm in the Upper Cape, Mid-Cape, Lower Cape and Outer Cape.

The Housing Institute will be a way for municipalities on Cape Cod to work in concert with one another as they learn the ins and outs of affordable housing development. Galazzi stressed that those needs can best be addressed collectively, with towns on Cape Cod working together to deal with the shortage of housing. “This really is a regional issue,” Galazzi said.

Moving the Needle

Coburn seconded that point by highlighting statistics from the Cape Cod Regional Housing Market Analysis that is currently being undertaken by the Cape Cod Commission. That study, Coburn said, shows, “we need 22,000 units that are affordable ownership units. And we also need 5,000 more affordable rental units and another 2,700 units to accommodate future growth.” 

To accomplish any of that – “to move the needle,” as Galazzi said – will require a cohesive, collaborative effort among all Cape Cod towns.

That was an argument backed by Michael Crane at One Cape, a two-day symposium organized by the Cape Cod Commission in June where Galazzi and Coburn announced the partnership between their two agencies. Crane's Vermont-based company, Crane Associates, is working with the commission to conduct the regional housing market analysis for the Cape. What that study has found, Crane said, is that "You have 15 independent municipalities making decisions, but I still don’t see who is going to tie them all together." 

The Cape Housing Institute is one way that HAC and CDP are attempting to solve that problem. 

Sponsors for the Cape Housing Institute include Shepley Wood Products, Cape & Islands United Way, Cape & Islands License Plate Fund, and the Estate of Bernard Kaplan.

Tony Shepley, owner of Shepley Wood Products, explained his support of the Institute this way: “The lack of affordable housing on Cape Cod is a major challenge for local employers. At Shepley, we believe that our employees should be able to live where they work, so we are committed to supporting this effort to help our Cape Cod towns be able to increase affordable year-round housing in a way that also preserves the unique character of this peninsula.”

To learn more about the Cape Housing Institute or to register for the upcoming fall session, click the blue button below. 

Cape Housing Institute 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, affordable housing, Alisa Galazzi, Cape Housing Institute, Community Development Partnership, Cape Community Housing Partnership, Jay Coburn

Anne Van Vleck Joins HAC Team

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Aug 03, 2017 @ 03:57 PM

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At the end of last month, HAC welcomed Anne Van Vleck as its Chief Development Officer, a new position that will lead the agency’s major gifts and resource development efforts.

She comes to HAC after having spent almost seven years as the executive director of CCYP, formerly known as the Cape Cod Young Professionals. During her tenure, Van Vleck helped grow the CCYP’s membership from 350 members to over 1,200. She also instilled a culture focused on addressing the Cape’s workforce issues through mentoring, civic engagement programs, and community summits.

It is this type of leadership that HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi said Van Vleck will add to the agency. “I am confident she will bring the same level of professionalism and expertise in translating our mission to donors,” Galazzi said.

As chief development officer, Van Vleck will focus on major gifts while cultivating new relationships that can allow the agency to grow and expand its services. “I’m thrilled to join the HAC team,” said Van Vleck who lives in Chatham with her family.

While still learning about HAC, she said she has been impressed with the staff’s commitment and passion for the agency's mission. “Housing is a huge issue on the Cape and there is a full spectrum of needs that this agency has a critical role in addressing.”

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Fundraising, affordable housing, CCYP, Anne Van Vleck, HAC donors

HAC Holds Information Session for Mill Hill Affordable Units

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jun 09, 2017 @ 02:49 PM
Mill Hill-1.jpgHAC Real Estate Assistant Betsie Rumbaugh answers a question about the lottery application for the affordable units at Mill Hill Residence in Yarmouth. 

When our loved ones grow older, how will we be able to care for them? It’s a question more Cape Codders are asking, particularly with an aging population; a Community Health Needs Assessment published by Cape Cod Healthcare last fall noted that nearly 26% of Barnstable County’s year-round population is over the age of 65, compared to 14% in Massachusetts and 13% in the nation.

The University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute predicts those numbers will only grow, estimating that by 2035 nearly 35% of the county’s population will be over 65.

That will bring with it a host of challenges that South Yarmouth’s Debbie Martin and Barnstable’s Cheryl Gibson are already grappling with. The pair were among a handful of residents who attended an information session focused on eight affordable units being built as part of Mill Hill Residence in Yarmouth that staff in HAC’s Cape Community Real Estate department held last month at the Yarmouth Senior Center.

Mill Hill is the latest assisted living facility that Maplewood Senior Living has constructed on Cape Cod. Last year, HAC conducted a lottery for 14 affordable units at Maplewood in Brewster. HAC will be doing the same for the eight affordable units in Mill Hill; a total of 75 units are being constructed there, representing a mixture of assisted living and memory care units.

Gael Kelleher, director of Cape Community Real Estate, said HAC’s role is to determine the eligibility of those applying for the affordable units based upon their income and assets. She said that interested applicants and caregivers should not disqualify themselves or a loved one before applying, noting that there were 45 people eligible for the 14 affordable units in Brewster. 

Both Gibson and Martin attended the session not for themselves, but for their mothers. “It is a lot for families,” Gibson said of serving as a caregiver. Her mother will soon turn 89 and would benefit from being in a facility like Mill Hill that offers memory care services. “There’s so many different aspects of it, between making sure she takes her medication on time to having some social stimulation rather than staring at the TV by herself.”

It was a similar story for Martin, whose 89-year-old mother currently lives at Thirwood Place, an independent living community for seniors in South Yarmouth. “She is at a point where she needs memory care,” Martin said.

She said having affordable units that provide the kinds of services that Mill Hill does make it an attractive option. And it’s something that more people on Cape Cod will require. “When my generation – I’m a Baby Boomer – starts to retire, we are going to demand a lot more options like this,” she said. 

Interested in applying for an affordable unit at Mill Hill Residence? Click this link to download a lottery application. 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Senior Housing, Gael Kelleher, affordable housing, Betsie Rumbaugh, Mill Hill Residence, Maplewood Senior Living

Editorial: How Federal Budget Cuts Could Impact Your Neighbors

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 @ 02:00 PM

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President Trump’s proposed $7 billion budget cuts to affordable housing, community development and social services programs appear to take a direct hit on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens: the elderly, the disabled, and the homeless, including those on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

In this region, as in many other parts of the country, wages have not kept up with cost of living increases. In addition, the Cape’s high rents and home prices, driven up by second homeowners and resort factors, continue to be out of reach for working year-rounders. HAC’s programs funded through HUD dollars are the foundation for economic mobility and stability in our community.

All told about 1,250 of HAC’s clients on the Cape and Islands could be affected if all the President’s recommended cuts take place. These programs bring $11 million annually from the federal government through HAC and into the Cape’s economy through rents and other assistance.

At Housing Assistance Corporation, we know the local stories behind the funding. We know how the assistance that flows from the federal government to our friends and neighbors here helps the neediest among us. It is not an exaggeration to say that these programs save lives.

HAC’s largest program is our Section 8 Housing program, which currently houses more than 1,000 families across the Cape and Islands. Recent news from HUD indicates that thousands of vouchers may be eliminated for low-income working families, seniors and people with disabilities. Besides pumping $750,000 per month into the Cape Cod economy through rents, HAC’s Section 8 program allows working families to stay on Cape Cod.

One of those with a voucher is Amy, a disabled senior who grew up on Cape Cod, but was unable to afford to live here. Because of her voucher, she has been able to stay on Cape Cod, work and raise her family in the town where her parents, grandparents, and great grandparents once lived.

One of our signature programs that is funded through HUD is HAC’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program that enables families to move off of government assistance and to self-sufficiency. A recent graduate of HAC’s Self-Sufficiency program, a single mom named Lisa who has three kids in Barnstable Schools, used the program to help her gain the necessary skills to move up in her job and budget more efficiently. At the end of the program, she is putting a down payment on her first home. That is how this program changes lives.

HAC is joining with other Community Development Corporations throughout the state and the country to urge congressional leaders to continue to support these valuable programs and, especially, the people that these programs serve.

Tags: Section 8, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Family Self Sufficiency, affordable housing, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Budget

Making Homeownership Attainable on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 @ 09:51 AM
Karin Bar-2.jpgHAC's Karin Bar manages Barnstable County's Down Payment and Closing Cost Program.

Sometimes the difference between becoming a homeowner on Cape Cod and remaining a renter is the matter of a few thousand dollars. Over the past three years, HAC Housing Counselor Karin Bar has seen the impact this kind of money can have in realizing the American dream as the administrator for Barnstable County’s Down Payment and Closing Cost Program.

HAC has managed the program for more than two decades, providing first-time home buyers who meet income eligibility requirements with the funds they need to purchase a home.

How effective is the program? Last year, HAC gave away $250,000 to 20 households on Cape Cod. Those no-payment, zero interest loans ranged from just over $3,000 to $20,000; the average loan was roughly $14,000.

The program is federally funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Loans can only be used for homes in Barnstable County; in 2016, loan recipients purchased homes in Barnstable, Centerville, Marstons Mills, Yarmouth, Sandwich and Harwich. When one of these homes is sold, the loan will be returned to the county so the money can be used again for the same purpose.

Last May, the county raised the loan amount from $10,000 to $20,000, allowing applicants “to qualify for different loan programs and a slightly better house,” Bar said.

Those who benefit from the program tend to represent Cape Cod’s workforce. “These are teachers, bank employees, contractors, one person who works for DCF [Department of Children & Families], chefs, school administrators and health care workers,” she said, adding that the age range goes from those in their 20s to people in their 60s.

To qualify for a down payment or closing cost loan, Bar said, applicants need decent credit and have to be able to obtain a preapproval letter from a lender as well as a mortgage.

A Number of Benefits

One of the advantages of the county program, Bar said, is that “this makes housing affordable without creating a deed restriction” on the home. “That is what makes this very attractive.”

It often results in residents reducing their expenses as “their mortgage payment is the same or even less than the rent they were paying,” Bar said.

Home buyers can make these loans go even further with additional mortgage products that includes the Buy Cape Cod and Islands initiative which reduces the minimum down payment prospective homebuyers need to 1.5 percent. Rolled out last summer, the initiative is a collaboration between MassHousing, Bristol County Savings Bank, First Citizens’ Federal Credit Union and Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank to help people overcome the obstacles to homeownership.

As to why these programs are important, Bar highlighted several of those who made the jump from renter to homeowner last year, utilizing these HUD funds from the county. Last spring, a single father with a teenage son were living in a one-bedroom apartment in Hyannis. When they moved into their own home, Bar said, “the son actually cried, saying, ‘Thank you for helping me get my own room.’”

One family had been outbid on seven properties before utilizing $20,000 from the program to finally purchase a roughly $279,000 home in Centerville.

For Bar, who also conducts foreclosure counseling at HAC, the program represents the joyful side of her job. “It is fantastic. I get bouquets of flowers and hugs and kisses and tears. It is pretty wonderful. It is very rewarding when there is a happy ending,” she said.

For more information on HAC's Down Payment and Closing Cost Program, contact Karin Bar at either 508-771-5400, ext. 289 or at kbar@haconcapecod.org

Tags: affordable housing, homeownership, Karin Bar, Barnstable County HOME Program, Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program

Sandy Horvitz Tapped to Lead HAC's Development Efforts

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 @ 09:07 PM
Sandy Edited-1.jpgSandy Horvitz is overseeing HAC's development efforts. 

After more than 40 years’ worth of experience in the development of affordable housing across the country, Sandy Horvitz moved to South Dennis in 2012. He was set to retire, but that changed last year when he saw an advertisement that HAC was looking for a director to lead its development department.

“I felt as though I still have something left to contribute,” he said.

And he saw HAC, the region’s largest developer of affordable housing, as the perfect opportunity to do just that. “I want to work with a group that has that soul of wanting to produce more housing, that wants to add to the solutions to our problems and not be a bellyacher, but rather be proactive instead of reactive,” he said.

In the fall, HAC tapped Horvitz to lead its development efforts.

A native of Massachusetts, Horvitz’s career has taken him to five other states – New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana and Florida – where he has focused on housing and finding ways to finance projects that make affordable developments possible. He has worked with the Denver Housing Authority, consulted with the San Antonio Housing Authority and created his own firm with offices in El Paso, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; and Denver, Colorado, assisting housing authorities in accessing funding and overseeing the development of public housing projects.

He is excited to lend his expertise to HAC as it focuses its development efforts on everything from employer-assisted housing to multi-family developments to homeownership opportunities. “These next few years are going to be bellwether years for HAC to provide housing to help the economy grow,” he said. 

HAC’s Current Developments

Sachem’s Path (Nantucket) - 40 homes
Canal Bluffs (Bourne) - 44 rental units
Brewster Woods (Brewster) - 30 rental units

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, affordable housing, Sachems Path, Sandy Horvitz, Canal Bluffs, Housing Development

Editorial: Day One

Posted by Rick Presbrey on Fri, Nov 11, 2016 @ 03:06 PM

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It is Monday morning and the office next to mine is empty. Looking in, there are lots of reminders of previous occupancy. A yellow pad with familiar handwriting. Family pictures not yet removed. Paint rubbed off the wall from the desk chair hitting it as the occupant moved around. The echo of my words, “Hey, Michael” still hangs in the air from my many calls to him for help in solving a problem or for his memory of past events. But he will be in to finish cleaning out his office. Something to look forward to.

After 35 years at HAC, Michael Sweeney retired on Friday. He was the Chief Operating Officer. He was good at a long list of things that I am not good at. And he was always here getting it done.

Can we go on without him? I know we can. People have left before. But it won’t be the same. How do you fill the void of decades of working together with less than five minutes total of even mildly angry words? How do you fill the space inside you that completely trusts someone and depends on that person to be here in all situations? How do you replace the emptiness inside where the steadiness and dependability of a human relationship used to be?

At his retirement party Friday night my wife reported that when talking about Michael, I said that he wasn’t really a friend. I don’t remember saying that but if I did say it I know why. For me a friend is someone you hang around with for the fun and camaraderie you receive from that friendship. In Michael’s case we shared some of that. But 99% of our relationship was about our work at HAC. Yes, we shared social time, sometimes during working hours and sometimes on weekends, but Michael was not central in our social circle and we weren’t part of his. With Michael we worked together every day. We solved problems together every day. We sat in each other’s office every day. We passed in the halls every day. We went to the dump together every Saturday and talked about work most of the time and family some of the time. We spent a lot more hours together than I ever have spent with a “friend.”

There must be another word that describes our relationship. People who serve in the military, particularly in battles, refer to those they were closest to and who they experienced difficult times with as their “buddies.” I have never understood that term, but maybe it applies to Michael and me.We certainly qualify as buddies. The buddy bond will always be there. That comforts me. But I miss his presence now.

You can read more about Michael Sweeney's 35-year career at HAC and his contributions to those we serve by clicking this link.

Tags: HAC, Rick Presbrey, affordable housing, Michael Sweeney

HAC Welcomes Wolf and Wallace to Board

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 @ 12:14 PM

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Two familiar faces – State Senator Dan Wolf and Tara Wallace - have made a return to HAC’s board of directors. The pair was appointed at HAC’s board meeting last month with Wolf filling a vacancy on the executive board and Wallace filling a seat on the constituency committee.

Wolf said he was eager to return to the board, especially because “the biggest economic issue we face on the Cape is the housing issue. HAC is probably the most important player in the quasi-private sector on the issue so I think we have the best opportunity to look at ways to address this issue regionally that allows people to have a lifestyle on the Cape we can be proud of.”

His appointment comes as he concludes his third and final term as a State Senator for the Cape and islands. The founder and CEO of Cape Air said he truly enjoyed his time in office which will officially end on January 4. “I love that government can really be a collaborative partner on addressing the issues,” he said.

With his role as a HAC board member, he will continue to work towards solving the issue of housing. “HAC has been committed to really addressing housing and home issues for over 40 years,” he said. It’s really an amazing organization and I look forward to being part of the team.”

Tara Wallace Photo.jpgTara Wallace of HAC's Constituency Committee

As a former client, Wallace knows just how the agency can help those in need. The agency had a role in getting Wallace her first apartment thanks to a Section 8 voucher and taught her crucial life skills through its Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. “I wouldn’t be where I am without HAC,” she said. “They not only helped me with housing and a car, but they helped me be able to sustain myself and eventually become independent.”

Today, Wallace is working for the Department of Transitional Assistance in Hyannis, where she is a benefit, eligibility and case social worker. A former member of the constituency committee, she expressed similar excitement to serve once again. “I feel like it is a very important role,” she said of the committee. “It is a good tool for HAC to be able to understand where their clients are coming from and how certain rules or programs affect clients.”

Tags: HAC Executive Board, volunteerism, HAC Volunteers, affordable housing, Constituency Committee

Summer on Cape Cod

Posted by Rick Presbrey on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 @ 10:13 AM

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I am not taking any travelling vacation this summer. Work is especially busy because we are trying to fill three key positions: the Director of Energy Programs; the Director of Homeless Prevention Services; and the Director of Housing Development. We also have a new COO, Walter Phinney, who started two weeks ago. The result is that I am trying to take just an occasional vacation day—staying local—this summer. That’s how I ended up as a day tripper on Martha’s Vineyard on a recent Monday.

I’ve never spent time on the Vineyard as a tourist, but I’ve been there on business over the years. I’ve have always planned my trips for the early morning hours so that I can be back at my desk by noon.

HAC has built affordable housing on the Vineyard. Back in the early 1980s, HAC partnered with Island Elderly Housing on a Martha’s Vineyard development called Hillside Village, which had 40 rental units for seniors. It is the only multi-family project HAC has been involved with. HAC also built 15 homeownership units on the Vineyard as part of a Self-Help Ownership project.

Last fall, HAC opened our first “office” on the Vineyard. Our part-time staffers share space in the Dukes County office building. They provide much-needed assistance to Vineyarders looking for affordable housing. I know the Vineyard to be a place where the challenge of affordable housing is even greater than it is on the Cape, not least because of the staggering price of real estate.

Last month, my wife Melanie, my son Paul and I, with another couple, took the day and went to the Vineyard as tourists. We rented a Jeep and proceeded, after a quick breakfast in Oak Bluffs, to begin to drive the perimeter of the island. We headed to Edgartown and following our noses and signs, headed to the Chappaquiddick ferry. For $28 round-trip, the five of us and our car rolled on to the three-car-ferry for the three-minute ride across. We satisfied our curiosities about the Ted affair and followed signs to the Mytoi Japanese gardens a few minutes away. The 45-minute walk through the gardens was fascinating and pleasingly invigorating.

Our next stop, a fair drive away, was something I have wanted to see for many years, the cliffs at Aquinnah. Our group was hungry by now, but there wasn’t much on the drive and the trinket shops at the site didn’t offer much hope. We walked up the short hill and enjoyed the breathtaking view of the cliffs and the Native American story that went with it. Part way back to the car I checked the snack bar only to find that it was a full-fledged restaurant with outside seating overlooking the beach far below and the ocean. We all enjoyed our lunch and marveled at our location with the “best view in the world!”

After lunch we headed back to the ferry, enjoying the rural country and farm views. We took the 5 pm boat back to Falmouth, a very thrilled, happy and tired fivesome. And I got to see a side of the Vineyard I had never seen before.

Tags: Martha's Vineyard, Rick Presbrey, affordable housing