Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

HAC Helps Client Turn Her Life Around

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, May 12, 2016 @ 03:05 PM
Jillian_Prudeaux_Photo.jpgJillian Prudeaux and her soon-to-be five-year-old daughter Adria in their apartment at Melpet Farm Residences. 

Five years ago, when Jillian Prudeaux had nowhere else to go, she turned to HAC. “When I met her, she was at the lowest point in her life,” said HAC’s Housing Specialist AnnMarie Torrey. 

It’s an assessment that the 29-year-old Prudeaux agrees with. “I was pretty down and out,” she said. “I was being evicted and eight and a half months pregnant.”

And so Torrey, who works with families to connect them to housing, housing assistance, training and job opportunities did the same with Prudeaux at a time when she needed it most. “I do anything that I can to help people become self-sufficient,” Torrey said.

Prudeaux was admittedly lost, lacking the skills she needed to not only live independently, but care for a child that was on the way. “I had my daughter in the midst of my life being in turmoil,” she said.

But with Torrey’s help, she slowly was able to make changes so the turmoil began to subside. “I think a lot of people in my life doubted my determination, but AnnMarie was always there,” Prudeaux said. “She always helped me.”

The first step was to find Prudeaux housing. Torrey did just that, identifying a one-bedroom apartment in Dennis that Prudeaux lived in for nearly four years. It was relatively small, but with HAC providing rental assistance Prudeaux was able to find stability. 

Driven to Succeed

Still, Prudeaux wanted more. “She told me she was going to make me proud and she was going to succeed,” Torrey said.

Initially, that meant making sacrifices that included taking public transportation from Dennis to Hyannis – she did not have a car at the time – with her daughter Adria, dropping her off at daycare before heading to work. “She was really putting a lot of effort into it,” Torrey said. “She was very motivated and sincere and determined and she was full of life.”

That effort eventually paid off. Today, Prudeaux is the manager for the Subway in Dennis Port, providing her with enough income to support her family so she no longer relies on HAC for rental assistance.

Last year, she reached out to HAC for help once again, this time with the agency’s real estate department. Prudeaux put her name into a lottery for a rental apartment at Melpet Farm Residences, an affordable housing development in Dennis built by HAC and the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH). Her name was picked and she moved into her new apartment with her daughter in December.

Looking at far how she has come, Prudeaux was proud of all that she has accomplished. “Four years ago, I would cry myself to sleep because I wouldn’t be able to eat,” she said.

She credited HAC for helping her gain the one thing she did not have when she first met Torrey – self-sufficiency. “I thank HAC for giving me the tools to succeed in life. They really helped shape me into an adult,” she said. “HAC is like a little group of angels.”

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: affordable housing, Rental Assistance, Melpet Farm Residences, AnnMarie Torey

Supporting Martha's Vineyard's Housing Needs

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 @ 10:17 AM
MV_Karen_and_Esther.jpgKaren Tewhey (left) and Esther Laiacona are providing a visible presence for HAC on Martha’s Vineyard. 

Martha’s Vineyard residents looking for support with housing issues are in luck thanks to an on-island HAC representative focused on assisting those in need.

That position, funded by the state, was filled in January by Karen Tewhey, a seasonal resident on Martha’s Vineyard for 25 years. She moved to the island permanently in October with her husband James Tewhey, an attorney.

Joining Tewhey with providing an island presence for HAC has been Esther Laiacona, who was hired to oversee special projects under the direction of Nancy Davison, the agency’s vice president of program operations.

Tewhey, whose official title is housing counselor, works out of the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority on State Road in Vineyard Haven, where she has been helping to address the island’s diverse housing needs.

Just three months into her assignment, Tewhey spoke to those needs which she termed “enormous,” highlighting the Vineyard’s, “high percentage of individuals in substandard housing: families living in one room with their children; families doubled up in substandard units; and families involved in the housing shuffle who don’t have permanent housing for 12 months of the year.”

Tewhey has worked closely with the community’s homeless men and women who benefitted from Hospitality Homes, a new program started by the Martha’s Vineyard Island Clergy Association this winter to provide shelter to this segment of the population. The shelters, located at Federated Church and Grace Episcopal Church in Edgartown, provided food and a bed to 18 men and 5 women, through the end of March.

Island’s Housing Challenges

She said the program was successful in providing a structured, safe, comfortable environment for those who are most vulnerable. At the same time, she said, it has highlighted gaps in services on the Vineyard which start with the lack of year-round affordable housing. “There are no apartments available at all on the island,” Tewhey said. Compounding this problem is that many individuals and families live in apartments or homes with nine-month leases, forcing them to find temporary housing during the summer as part of the island’s housing shuffle.

Tewhey is available to provide support for anyone with housing needs on the island and works closely with Laiacona, who was homeless on Martha’s Vineyard with her two children for 15 months. Laiacona now sits on the Martha’s Vineyard Homelessness Task Force, offering a real-life perspective on the challenges of being homeless on the island.

“I understanding what it’s like to not eat a meal so you can buy shoes,” Laiacona said, noting that her experience gives her a compassion for those who are homeless and a voice advocating for change.

At HAC, her first project was to research the health and human services resources available in Dukes County, Barnstable County, statewide and nationwide, information that will go on the Massachusetts Housing Consumer Education Centers website (www.masshousinginfo.org) as well as the HAC website.

Together, Laiacona and Tewhey are forging a presence on the island so that HAC can better address the housing needs there. “I think it’s satisfying to me to be a knowledgeable resource for individuals who might not know how to maneuver through the system,” Tewhey said. “It can be daunting to deal with state agencies, so I have the luxury and education where I can be a resource for residents and a voice for them.”

If you live on Martha's Vineyard, you can learn more about our services on the island by clicking this link.  

Tags: homelessness, Martha's Vineyard, affordable housing, Hospitality Homes

Rick Presbrey's Editorial: A New Beginning

Posted by Rick Presbrey on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 @ 04:33 PM


At the start of this fiscal year, which started last July for us, we decided to begin a new initiative to develop white papers on a variety of subjects related to housing and our clients on the Cape and Islands. This endeavor was launched as we contemplated our 40-plus-year history and the 40 years ahead. 

During the past four decades we have helped more than 160,000 people with a wide variety of services related to housing. HAC’s efforts have garnered results in many ways. We hope we have changed attitudes. We have helped create new organizations to accomplish our or related missions and we may have precipitated an environment that is a lot more friendly to the idea of public involvement in creating housing that is “affordable.”

The fundamental problem in our region, as I have said many times, consists of several components: 1) our seasonal demand drives up housing prices; 2) our service-based economy provides low-paying jobs; 3) the cost of building rental housing for year-round tenants is too high to provide a return on investment with the rents local people can afford to pay; 4) lack of multifamily zoning districts makes land appropriate to build multifamily rentals in short supply; 5) lack of public wastewater systems makes it difficult to build rental developments of a size that provides efficiencies of scale.

I appreciate that we, at HAC, have won many battles to provide decent housing for people, but we have lost the war so far in that housing problems are worse now than they were when we started in 1974. One result of this conclusion is that we have started to research and publish “white papers” to help add to the information we need as civic leaders and citizens to make the most informed decisions possible to improve the future availability of housing for an economically diverse population in our region.

We hope to publish four papers a year. Some of the topics under consideration now are:

  • The shortage of rental housing for young professionals, seniors and people with lower incomes. Presently, demand exceeds supply.
    A report card on how town-based Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds are being used.
  • The relationship between housing insecurity to children’s health, education, and the general well being and prospects for their future.
  • The relationship between trauma in early life and homelessness.
  • Regulatory barriers to providing housing for those on the autism spectrum.
    Housing Court for Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket Counties: Do we need one and will it happen?
  • Reverse mortgages: the benefits and the pitfalls.

I hope you take the opportunity to read our future white papers on our website and email us your comments and suggestions for future subjects.


Tags: affordable housing

Housing Cape Cod's Aging Demographic

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 @ 12:09 PM

Maplewood_1.jpgThe entrance to the recently built Maplewood at Brewster assisted living facility. 

A home is tied to our identity, whether it’s a first, second or third one. Home gives us comfort and peace, particularly as we start to age and our needs become greater.

A select group of Cape residents will find that comfort in Maplewood, a new assisted living facility consisting of 132 units on 22 acres of land in Brewster. At the beginning of this week, HAC’s Cape Community Real Estate oversaw the lottery for 14 of those apartments – seven assisted living and seven memory care – that have been designated as affordable. The monthly rent, including services, for the affordable units is roughly $3,000.

“We don’t do a lot of these,” Gael Kelleher, the director of the real estate department, said, noting that this was an unusual lottery because of the demographic for the units. Technically, they are for those over the age of 62, but HAC received 25 applicants, the majority of whom were born in the 1920s and 30s.

Before starting the process, Kelleher admitted that, “we thought it would be difficult to find applicants that fit within the guidelines,” a preconception that turned out not to be the case.

To be eligible, applicants had to make less than 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Barnstable County, or $46,100 a year for one person. That income would make it difficult for anyone to afford the monthly rent so Kelleher said applicants needed to have the proper assets – accrued savings, property or retirement accounts – to cover those costs.

The need for affordable housing for Cape’s elderly demographic is growing, said Nancy Davison, HAC’s vice president of program operations. “This is the first time we’ve worked with a developer of assisted living units in trying to find eligible residents for this type of facility,” she said. “I thought it was interesting… In a number of ways, this lottery is illustrating the fact that our population here is getting older.”

With that fact brings a whole host of needs – medical, social and domestic – for those entering the latter stages of life. Simple tasks such as getting up and down the stairs are difficult for some and impossible for others. Cooking, cleaning and remembering to take one’s pills are other chores that become increasingly onerous as one ages.

Maplewood_Photo_22.jpgHAC's Gael Kelleher (right), draws numbers at the lottery held earlier this week at Maplewood, a new assisted living facility in Brewster, as Bridget Armstrong, also of HAC, looks on. 

The benefits of a facility like Maplewood are that they address many of these needs in-house. They provide residents in assisted living units one meal per day with the option of purchasing more; three meals per day are provided for those in memory care units. They offer social and recreational activities, shuttle services and housekeeping. And assistance with prescriptions as well as medical treatment, can be included at an additional cost.

Kelleher said each applicant has their own individual story for why moving to a facility like this makes sense. But the common thread, she said, is that “they just can’t continue to stay in their houses, but can’t necessarily go live with their children because they are not set up with the care that is needed.”

In addition to the 14 units at Maplewood in Brewster, HAC will oversee two additional lotteries for similar Maplewood facilities, both of which are in Yarmouth – Maplewood at Mill Pond off Route 28 and Maplewood at Mayflower Place on Buck Island Road – and are slated for completion in 2017.

Personally, Kelleher said overseeing this lottery has provided a unique perspective on the aging process. “It is very important to have some retirement money set aside,” she said. “It’s a difficult situation people will be in where they can’t stay in their house, but can’t afford the $5,000, $6,000 or $7,000 a month needed for an assisted living facility. All of us should take pause because there will be a time in the future where we won’t be working anymore and our social security isn’t going to do it.”

To her, this experience has demonstrated one simple fact – housing impacts those of all ages. “We serve a very diverse population, from children all the way up,” Kelleher said. “And housing is an issue across all boundaries, when we’re young, in the middle and near the end. It is an issue for everybody.”


Tags: affordable housing

Year Round Rentals Needed on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Jun 08, 2015 @ 02:18 PM

Do you have a rental property that is vacant, or will be in the near future? Did you know HAC provides a free rental listing service?

Available rentals are posted to our website, free of charge, at a property owner’s request. The listing can be downloaded by prospective tenants who will contact you directly. Click this link to learn more about the rental property listings. 

There is a serious lack of year-round rentals right now! If you have any availability, please contact Liz Belcher at lbelcher@HAConCapeCod.org or call 508-771-5400, ext. 210.

Tags: housing, year round rentals, affordable housing

Cape Leaders Tackle Housing Crisis

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jun 05, 2015 @ 03:23 PM
DSC 8224 resized 600Local leaders come together to discuss present and future housing issues on Cape Cod and the Islands at the SmarterCape Summit.  HAC CEO Rick Presbrey participated in a panel discussion about how those in the public, private and nonprofit sectors can work to solve the region’s lack of affordable housing. 

If there was a book written about the current housing situation on Cape Cod, a good title might be “The Housing Crisis.”

That is exactly the phrase several presenters used during the 5th Annual SmarterCape Summit held at the Cape Cod Resort & Conference Center in May. This year’s topic focused on housing.

“If you care about the Cape’s future, if you’re concerned how young people on Cape Cod can afford to live here… if you’re concerned housing options are too limited on Cape Cod,” said Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Wendy Northcross, “then this summit is for you.”

Her comments kicked off what was decidedly a bleak picture of the Cape’s housing issues. During an interactive survey, 92 percent of the more than 160 people in attendance responded that they believed Cape Cod has a housing problem.

Perhaps the most disturbing trend – the exodus of those between the ages of 25 to 44 from the region - was offered by Barry Bluestone of Truro, founding director of Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

The center was commissioned by the Cape Cod Young Professionals (CCYP) to assess the region’s outflow of what Bluestone dubbed “the core of the new labor force.” From 2000 to 2010, that demographic declined by 27 percent on Cape Cod, compared to 12.5 percent in the state and 3.4 percent nationally.

“Now here’s where things get real scary,” Bluestone told the audience, as he showed that precipitous decline continuing. It’s predicted that the Cape could lose over 20,000 people in the next 20 years. “We see a very large percentage of this is due to outmigration,” Bluestone said, noting that the majority will be the younger demographic, those under 45, that are already leaving the peninsula.

“So the real question is: how do we keep young people who are already here?” he asked. “And is it possible that we can even get some young people to come here?”

He offered some suggestions to addressing the problem including advocating for better job opportunities, reducing barriers to economic development and creating more affordable housing, including millennial villages that cater to the types of people that Cape Cod is losing.

DSC 8170 resized 600Northeastern University's Barry Bluestone talks about Cape Cod's housing challenges.

The region, he said, could also take a page from the economic success Chelsea has shown, creating the most jobs of all communities in the state over a 13-year period since the turn of the century.

What’s Chelsea’s secret? Marketing.

“It turns out the single factor that correlated more highly than any other with the growth in establishment, growth in business, and growth in a community was how well they did their economic development marketing,” Bluestone said.

Sitting on a panel with regional leaders and business people, HAC CEO Rick Presbrey talked about the discrepancy between housing costs on Cape Cod, which have gone up, and income, which has remained stagnant. “What it does is it drives people off the Cape because the wages are too low,” he said.

Presbrey urged action to make sure that Cape Cod can be “the place we want it to be.”

Panelist Paul Niedzwiecki, executive director of the Cape Cod Commission, said part of the solution is growth. “We need to grow,” he said. “When communities stop growing, they start dying.”

He emphasized the need to find the proper locations to site affordable housing and create incentives for developers to build these types of projects the Cape sorely needs.

Governor Charles Baker, the summit’s keynote speaker, talked about ways his administration can help.

He listed three aspects of any successful affordable housing project: permitting, labor and land. “The cost of those three elements determines the price of a project,” he said. Reducing one of those can help communities, “start to build housing people can afford to live in.”

The Commonwealth has an abundance of undeveloped land which Governor Baker said could be used to address the state’s housing issues.

Governor Baker also lamented the permitting hurdles involved with commercial and residential development, which add significant costs to a project. He promised to tackle this issue by working with officials in local government to assist the state in coming up with a more streamlined, efficient process.

In terms of providing more dollars for affordable housing projects, he said the state was at least one fiscal year away, based upon the $750 million deficit his office inherited for this fiscal year and $1.8 billion deficit for next fiscal year. “You can’t make strategic investments in anything if you don’t get your fiscal house in order,” he said, to applause.

DSC 8232 resized 600Governor Charles Baker addresses the audience at the SmarterCape Summit.

The one question Governor Baker did not have an answer to was how the Cape can address the loss of its young people. “This kid issue is a tough one,” he said, following a long pause. “I do think this issue involves a lot of things… Number one, it’s year-round employment which is something that I know is an issue down here.

“The unemployment rate for kids coming out of college these days is well above 25 percent,” he continued. “You can’t be picky if you’re a kid. You need to go where the opportunity is which is what my [oldest] son did. And you have to think that all those Baby Boomers that are in front of you are not going to retire any time soon so it’s a very different labor market then the one I entered when I got out of school.”

Tags: HAC, Wendy Northcross, Rick Presbrey, affordable housing, SmarterCape Summit, Governor Charles Baker, Barry Bluestone, Paul Niedzwiecki

State Lends its Support to Sachem's Path Project

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 @ 08:30 AM
DSC 0053 resized 600Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick with HAC's Kate Ferreira at a press conference in June announcing funding for several affordable housing projects including Sachem's Path on Nantucket. 

During Massachusetts’ 2nd Annual Housing Week in June, HAC’s housing development project manager Kate Ferreira drove up to Dorchester to attend a press conference where Governor Deval L. Patrick announced state funding towards the initial phase of a project that will bring 40 affordable homes to Nantucket.

That was the first of several milestones that have been reached in recent months that has made the Sachem’s Path project a reality.

Along with the state commitment of $1.485 million towards Sachem’s Path, the town of Nantucket transferred the 10 acres of land, where the 40 units will be built, to HAC in August. A few days later HAC staff, along with many of the key players in the project - Nantucket Housing Authority, Housing Nantucket, Habitat for Humanity Nantucket, the Nantucket Community Preservation Committee, Horsley Witten Group and Oxbow Partners – gathered at the Dreamland Theater on Nantucket to celebrate how far Sachem’s Path has come and how close it is to fruition.

To learn more about Sachem’s Path and to keep up to date with the progress of the project visit www.sachemspath.org and LIKE the Sachem’s Path Facebook page.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Nantucket, Kate Ferreira, Governor Deval Patrick, Affordable Development on Cape Cod, affordable housing, Sachems Path