Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Harwich Big Fix Helps Transform Lives

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Nov 08, 2018 @ 04:18 PM
Cape Associates BFBarbara and Chris Mack join volunteers, which include staff from Cape Associates, who donated their time fixing up the Harwich couple's home. 

Outside Chris and Barbara Mack’s Harwich house, volunteers were busy painting the trim, landscaping the yard, and fixing gutters. Inside, a skilled crew from Cape Associates was installing a new bay window.

As the scene unfolded in front of them, Barbara acknowledged how much this work meant to her. “It is just so overwhelming,” she said. “It makes my heart so happy.”

Individually, the projects done at the Mack’s house, which they have owned since 1998, may have been relatively minor. But combined, they made a huge impact on the couple who repeatedly expressed their gratitude for the kindness of complete strangers.

This is the magic of the Big Fix which started in 2010 in Barnstable as a way to support seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners in one town on Cape Cod. Through the one-day event, volunteers help raise funds for HAC’s programs while conducting the types of small home repairs that can be financially or physically difficult for homeowners like the Macks to do themselves.

Harwich Big Fix-8Jeanne Roque of Cape Cod 5 hauls trash during the Harwich Big Fix. 

“When you go to the site take a mental note of what it looks like before and what it looks like after,” HAC CEO Alisa Magnotta Galazzi said during the kick-off ceremony at Monomoy Regional High School. “You’re going to see how the power of a community coming together, like-minded people coming together, can transform a life and transform a house.”

This year, roughly 340 volunteers donated a few hours of their time to help 18 homeowners in Harwich at the end of September.

They included people like Ralph Perry, a US Army veteran, who has lived in his home for 32 years. He had nearly two dozen volunteers clearing brush, trimming trees, removing an old swing set, and hauling trash at his house.

“It means a lot. It means an awful lot,” he said. “I can’t believe how many people have come to help.”

Tags: Big Fix, Harwich Big Fix, Harwich, Cape Cod 5, Cape Associates, Alisa Galazzi, veterans, home repair, HAC Volunteers, volunteering, volunteerism, Volunteer Cape Cod

Editorial: The High Cost of Doing Nothing

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Wed, Nov 07, 2018 @ 02:11 PM

 

Housing Study-2 (October 24, 2018)

At Housing Assistance Corporation, we have been on the frontlines of providing affordable housing since 1974. Today, our challenges have never been greater. The shrinking supply of year-round housing is getting worse. It is impacting families, businesses, and municipalities. It is a threat to the health of our economy and the very character of Cape Cod. 

The reasons behind this crisis are simple. Since Cape Cod is a desirable location to live and vacation, non-residents and investors are increasingly buying existing year-round properties and converting them into short-term rentals or keeping them for their own occasional use. The stock of year-round housing is rapidly depleting and therefore, prices are out of reach for Cape Cod residents. 

As the regional housing agency on Cape Cod, we decided to take a step back and analyze the internal and external causes of the region’s housing shortage, its impact and possible solutions. We started with two simple questions — what would happen if we did nothing? What more can we do?

Those questions formed the basis of a white paper, “Housing On Cape Cod: The High Cost of Doing Nothing”, that our agency released last month. 

For this report, we relied on the analysis of numerous sources. We interviewed business and community leaders about the effects of the housing crunch. The research and conversations shaped our thinking and recommended strategies. For example, in addition to developing affordable housing units, Housing Assistance Corporation is now investing in the development of market-rate units that will help alleviate the housing shortage. More year-round housing will change the supply dynamic in the marketplace and add more options for all income groups. 

Additionally, HAC is launching Rent 365, a pilot program that incentivizes homeowners to convert their seasonal or vacation homes into year-round rentals. 

This is a challenging time for our region. Low-income families suffer first and most acutely if we do nothing, but they are not alone. Uniting and finding purposeful strategies that mitigate and eventually solve our housing crisis will be of great benefit to our region. If we keep approaching housing in our region with the same old strategies, we will only continue to feed the worsening and self-perpetuating housing shortage for year-round residents. 

Let’s try some new ideas. 

I welcome your thoughts and your suggestions on how we can meet this challenge together.

Housing on Cape Cod: The High Cost of Doing Nothing

Visit www.capehousing.org to read HAC's new report which identifies new strategies for addressing the region's housing crisis. 

 

Tags: Housing on Cape Cod, Alisa Galazzi, white papers, housing research, rental housing, Rent 365, Editorial, housing crisis

Celebrating the Completion of High Meadow Townhomes

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Oct 30, 2018 @ 01:51 PM
High Meadow-1-1Melissa Harris and her two children, Isaiah and Arianna, help cut the ribbon to mark the completion of High Meadow Townhomes which HAC developed with POAH in Bourne. The Harris family are one of 44 families who will soon call High Meadow home. 

Since 2012, Melissa Harris has lived in a two-bedroom apartment at the Residences at Canal Bluffs in Bourne, where she is raising her two children all while balancing a job at Cape Cod Healthcare and studying for her nursing degree.

Next month, her family will move into a more spacious three-bedroom apartment at nearby High Meadow Townhomes. “I don’t think there’s anybody more excited today than us because we have been in a two-bedroom,” Melissa said during a ribbon cutting earlier this month to celebrate the completion of the project which will add 44 mixed-income housing units to the Upper Cape community. “We’re so excited and so incredibly thankful that you all took the time to design such beautiful homes.”

HAC CEO Alisa Magnotta Galazzi said Melissa is, “an example how safe, affordable housing is the foundation from which dreams and hope grow… Melissa is an example of our mission in action and really, truly, the reason we are all here and the reason this works.”

High Meadow Townhomes represents the third and final phase of a project that has brought 117 mixed-income apartments to a 19-acre parcel located off MacArthur Boulevard.

High Meadow-9HAC CEO Alisa Magnotta Galazzi talks about how having a safe, affordable home serves as the foundation from which hope and dreams can flourish. 

Originally slated for use as an office building for a tech startup, it was purchased by businessman William Zammer of Mashpee who eventually sold it to HAC to develop as rental housing.

HAC partnered with Preservation Of Affordable Housing (POAH) on the project which started with 28 affordable apartments at the Residences at Canal Bluffs, completed in 2009, and followed by 45 individual, family, and senior affordable apartments at Clay Pond Cove, completed in 2012.

The final apartments are significant because of the impact they will have on the 44 families that will move into them in November. “These 44 townhouses and 117 homes and residences that are here for people will be a success story that will drive not only a more successful Bourne community, but something we need on Cape Cod as well,” said Congressman William R. Keating, one of several public officials to attend the ceremony.

State Senator Vinny deMacedo echoed the Congressman’s comments, saying that, “there is nothing more important than being able to provide someone with a roof over their head and a safe and a warm place to go that is affordable.”

High Meadow-25

Tags: High Meadow Townhomes, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Housing Development, affordable housing, Preservation Of Affordable Housing, Aaron Gornstein, Alisa Galazzi, POAH, Bill Keating, Canal Bluffs, rental housing, year round rentals

Donor Spotlight: Barton Tomlinson

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Oct 16, 2018 @ 06:33 PM
Barton Family-2Those attending the Barton Tomlinson Clinical & Group Space dedication included Angel House Facility Director Lin Rohr (from left), HAC CEO Alisa Magnotta Galazzi, Jim and Betty Ryan, Rob and Kim Nichols, and Cassi Danzl, HAC's Director of Family and Individuals Services. 

Although Barton Tomlinson passed away last November, his legacy will continue to live on at HAC’s Angel House shelter.

There, a small plaque bearing his name proudly hangs on the wall, reading “Barton Tomlinson Clinical & Group Space.” In this room, facility director Lin Rohr said, is where the healing takes place.

That healing is something that was so important to Mr. Tomlinson and his wife Mary, who died in 2008. The couple were longtime donors of HAC, focusing their giving on the Hyannis shelter which serves mothers overcoming addiction and their children.

Barton Plaque

At the end of August on Mary’s birthday, that giving was celebrated during a naming ceremony to celebrate the impact Mr. Tomlinson has had on Angel House. In attendance were Barton’s daughter Betty and her husband Jim Ryan of Osterville, as well as Barton’s cousin Rob and his wife Kim Nichols of Hyannis.

“I was struck by his quiet resolve to always do the right thing,” said HAC CEO Alisa Magnotta Galazzi of Mr. Tomlinson. He was committed to stabilizing families, she said, “and giving these children here a second chance. It was the next generation that he was really invested in.”

In order for clients at the shelter to overcome the trauma of homelessness and addiction, Rohr said, they need the support of the community. “It is only possible through the generosity of people like Bart,” she said.

“This place meant a lot to him,” Betty said after she took part in the ceremony and a tour of Angel House. “He really felt for the mothers and the children here and wanted them to get on the right path.”

Tags: Angel House, Barton Tomlinson, Family Shelter, Donor Spotlight, HAC donors, Alisa Galazzi, Lin Rohr

Editorial: On To Second Year for Cape Housing Institute and Cape Housing Advocacy

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Mon, Aug 20, 2018 @ 02:52 PM
Cape Housing Institute-33Attorney Peter Freeman speaks to participants about Chapter 40B during last year's Cape Housing Institute. 

It is long past time for bold new initiatives to help to increase our attainable housing stock on the Cape and Islands. “Attainable” housing means our Cape Cod workforce can afford it, and these units are in very short supply throughout our region. Ideally, everyone in our region—from nonprofits to municipalities to town meeting voters—will work together on ways to increase capacity for attainable housing in the region.

Our Cape Community Housing Partnership, a collaboration that began in 2017 with Community Development Partnership, is a three-part initiative to try to break the impasse in creating housing opportunities for all on the Cape.

The first part is the Cape Housing Institute, which debuted in the fall of 2017. During the Institute, elected and appointed municipal officials and town staff are invited to learn about the ins and outs of affordable housing, from 40Bs to accessory apartments, from financing to fair housing laws.

The idea of the training is to make municipal officials more savvy about housing so that when developers come calling with a project, town officials can negotiate with them and steer them toward projects that meet the character of the community.

We trained 140 officials during last year’s Cape Housing Institute, with HAC running the classes in the Upper and Mid-Cape and CDP running the classes in the Lower and Outer Cape.

We were most proud of the fact that 100 percent of the attendees who gave us feedback about the course said they would recommend it to their colleagues on committees. That gave us the impetus to continue the training for a second year with a revised curriculum that offers new subjects suggested by last year’s participants.

The 2018 Cape Housing Institute will take place from October 3 to November 8 with classes in the Upper, Mid, Lower and Outer Cape.

The second part of the Cape Community Housing Partnership is Cape Housing Advocacy Training, which we held for the first time last winter. We are in the planning stages for the second session this winter. The Advocacy Training, which is open to the public, is designed for people to learn about the shortage of housing and how to advocate for more housing, by attending town meetings to speak up in favor of new developments.

Between the sessions in the Lower and Outer Cape run by CDP and our sessions in the Upper and Mid-Cape, we trained 80 people through Advocacy Training last winter.

For those who want to join us for these sessions, you can register on our website by clicking this link

We hope to see you there so we can all be part of the solution to generate more housing on the Cape and Islands.

Sign Up for the Cape Housing Institute


Are you a municipal employee or elected official on the Upper Cape or Mid-Cape who wants to learn more about affordable housing and how you can help your community address its housing needs?

HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP) are preparing for the second year of the Cape Housing Institute, which will start on October 3 and run through November 8.


The 6-week workshop is intended for members of Select Boards, Planning Boards, Zoning Boards, Community Preservation Committees, Housing Trusts, Housing Committees, Housing Authorities, and Town staff. For more info or to register, click this link

Tags: Cape Housing Advocacy Training, Cape Housing Institute, Cape Community Housing Partnership, Community Development Partnership, Alisa Galazzi, Housing Development, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Development on Cape Cod

Editorial: Making an Impact Through Giving

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 @ 05:14 PM
Girl Scouts-2Troop leaders Dawn Dinnan (left) and Jen Tolley (right) were joined by scouts Phoebe Pressman (from left), Madison Westover, Maddie Vlacich, Bari-Lynn Santos, Carly Dinnan and Cassandra Wells in delivering cookies.

At Housing Assistance Corporation, we see generosity from people of all ages throughout the Cape. The following act of kindness by a local Girl Scout troop for clients at our Angel House shelter is just one example of neighbors helping neighbors.

No matter what you give, every time you give, it makes an impact on our clients, and that is important.

Girl Scouts Deliver Cookies to Angel House

A plastic bin full of Girl Scout cookies sat a few feet away from Jamillah, a mother who has been at Angel House since November.

“It gives me sense of hope that there’s still good people out there, people who recognize that we matter,” Jamillah said of the cookies which were donated to Angel House clients at the end of last month by Junior Girl Scout Troop 68033 of Dennis and Yarmouth. “By acknowledging us, it gives us a sense of belonging.”

From January through May of this year, the troop offered the public an opportunity to purchase cookies, not only for themselves, but for clients at Angel House, a Hyannis shelter which serves mothers recovering from substance abuse and their children.

Girl Scouts-1

Troop leader Jen Tolley said these types of community service projects are a vital part of the group’s activities. “I think it’s important just so they know they are a part of something that is bigger than themselves,” she said. “And this helps them recognize that kindness is something that goes two ways.”

During their visit to Angel House, the scouts had an opportunity to learn about the shelter, asking questions to Support Staff Sarah Caldwell, and also interacting with clients who are benefitting from the program.

Shauni, who has been at the shelter for four months, said Angel House has “stabilized my life, helped me stay clean and helped me reunite with my son.”

She reflected on the generosity of the scouts, echoing the sentiments of the other mothers staying there: “It is nice to have people outside of here think of us.”

Donate to HAC Today

Tags: Angel House, Alisa Galazzi, charitable giving, Girl Scouts, giving, Family Shelter

HAC Adds Fundraising Component to Big Fix

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Jul 24, 2018 @ 12:44 PM
Big Fix Team Leader-3Realtors Lisa Parenteau (left) and Robin Gunderson have signed up as Big Fix Team Leaders for this year's Big Fix in Harwich. 

In an effort to expand the reach of the Big Fix, the agency is seeking Big Fix Team Leaders and Big Fix Fundraising Volunteers to enable HAC to assist more residents, not only during the annual day of service, but throughout the year.

Realtors Lisa Parenteau and Robin Gunderson of Lisa Sells Cape Cod were the first to sign up as Team Leaders at the end of last month. In that capacity, the pair are organizing a Big Fix team that will volunteer their time for this year’s Big Fix in Harwich and also raise funds to not only support the event, but HAC’s programs that serve vulnerable populations on the Cape.

During a Big Fix Team Leader information session at the Harwich Chamber of Commerce in June, HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi spoke about how impactful the Big Fix is. “Last year was transformative,” she said, of the Big Fix which helped seniors, veterans, and disabled homeowners with small home repairs in Falmouth. “Now this year, our personal goal is to be financially in a position that would allow us to do this type of work year-round.”

Parenteau jumped at the opportunity to make a difference on Cape Cod “where there is just a real shortage of housing, in general,” she said. “We really want to be a part of the housing solution, both in selling houses, and in supporting the mission of HAC.”

To learn more about becoming a Big Fix volunteer, click this link. Those who sign up as a Big Fix Team Leader or Fundraising Volunteer by Tuesday, July 31 will receive two free tickets to HAC’s 4th Annual Cape Cod Quahog Challenge on Sunday, August 5, 1-4 pm, at Trader Ed’s in Hyannis.

Tags: Harwich Big Fix, Big Fix, Fundraising, Harwich, Alisa Galazzi

Editorial: Helping People Helps the Economy

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 @ 09:51 AM

HAC's Economic Impact Photo.jpg

When we think about all we do at Housing Assistance Corporation to help people, from homeless outreach to sheltering families, homeless prevention and first-time homebuyer counseling, among our many programs, we can sometimes forget about the beneficial economic impact to the Cape Cod regional community of not just Housing Assistance Corporation, but also other local nonprofits.

Housing Assistance Corporation is one of the largest human service agencies on Cape Cod, and our positive impact on the local economy on Cape Cod is significant.

In our most recent count, the 105 full- and part-time jobs at HAC resulted in $6.7 million in salaries to Cape Codders. In addition, HAC’s contracted services resulted in 74 jobs and $11.8 million in spending. Using a standard multiplier formula to determine the economic impact of our agency on Barnstable County —adding the employee spending and the vendor and contractor spending—results in a grand total of $28.4 million dollars in impact plus 274 jobs created through HAC’s presence on Cape Cod.

We are helping people to live in safe, secure housing, and we are also helping landlords. As the largest supplier of rental vouchers in the region, with more than 1,200 vouchers, our leased housing program generates $750,000 per month in government funds to local landlords in rents. Of that total, $219,000 per month is paid for 328 rental units in the town of Barnstable—a total of $2.6 million annually in federal funds that are passed through HAC to the town of Barnstable.

Our impact to the town of Barnstable and the village of Hyannis, where our headquarters is located, has a positive impact on the community. Of the approximately 5,300 clients that we help every year, about one-sixth are town of Barnstable residents, for a total of 888 individuals and families assisted in the Town of Barnstable last year.
Taking a close look at that figure through some of our larger programs, the impact to the townspeople of Barnstable is quantifiable. For instance, our homeownership assistance program, which includes foreclosure prevention counseling, assisted 260 Barnstable residents.

Our homeless prevention program assisted 117 individuals and families in the town of Barnstable to prevent them from falling into homelessness.

Our energy, weatherization and home repair program assisted 183 low-income homeowners in the town of Barnstable to stay comfortable in their homes and save money on heating and cooling.

We are currently in pre-development on a housing project that I wrote about in this column last month. The project will bring $1.6 million in investment to an economically challenged corner of Hyannis.

As CEO of Housing Assistance Corporation, I am so proud of the impactful work we do to help people throughout Cape Cod. This is our social imperative. One benefit of having a nonprofit mission is that we reinvest money into the community. I am equally proud of the important role that we play in driving the local economy in the town of Barnstable and in the region.

Tags: Economic Impact, Alisa Galazzi, job creation, Section 8, affordable homeownership, foreclosure prevention, homeless prevention, Housing Development, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod

Editorial: Lofts at 57 a New Development Model for HAC

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Mon, Feb 12, 2018 @ 10:29 AM
Ridgewood Plans-2 (February 2018).jpg A street elevation rendering of the Lofts at 57 from Ridgewood Avenue. 

Funding for affordable housing has long depended on federal tax credits, a complicated, time-consuming and unreliable method. Using tax credits meant years of waiting “in line” for the funding. With our shortage of affordable housing at a crisis point in our region, we simply don’t have the time to wait.

That is why Housing Assistance Corporation’s Housing Development Department has come up with a new housing development model and a new way to fund it. We call it “pocket neighborhoods,” modeled after historic examples like the gingerbread cottage colony in Oak Bluffs. Our pocket neighborhoods will have a mix of affordable and market rate units; will not rely on federal government funding; and will be able to meet the needs of locals at all income levels.

HAC has purchased a .7-acre lot on Ridgewood Avenue in downtown Hyannis, a centrally located spot near the Hyannis Transportation Center; on the sewer line; and in the Growth Incentive Zone (GIZ). Because of the lot’s location in the GIZ, we were encouraged by the Barnstable Planning and Development Department to pursue a higher density development.

We plan to build eight rental apartments on the property, six of which would be market rate and two of which would be affordable for those earning 80 percent or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Barnstable County.

Ridgewood Front Elevation Photo (February 2018).jpg A rendering of the front elevation of one of the triplexes which features a wrap-around porch.

Titled the Lofts at 57, the project represents a new development model for HAC and one we hope to replicate throughout our region.

Since last fall, HAC has been working with the Town of Barnstable to vet the project. It has already received approval from Barnstable’s Site Plan Review committee and will next go before the Barnstable Planning Board on February 12. If the proposal receives support from the Planning Board, the final stage will be to obtain Barnstable Town Council’s blessing.

The development would be unique for HAC in that it is a mixed-income community. The rents from the market rate units will support the development costs of the affordable units.

When complete, the Lofts at 57 will be targeted to the Cape’s workforce and is tied to the economic redevelopment of downtown Hyannis, because it is situated on an old abandoned lot with a deteriorated foundation. About 15 years ago, someone tried to build a large single-family home there and never finished it. It’s an eyesore.

In its place will be three structures, consisting of two triplexes and one duplex, that will use modular construction technology, reducing the overall time and cost needed to build them.

Instead of facing outward, the structures will all be facing a shared open space. The intention of the pocket neighborhood is to encourage interaction with neighbors and create a sense of community. We hope to build more of these projects in the coming years, using redevelopment to revitalize our village centers and to bring much-needed “attainable” housing to the region.

Tags: Lofts at 57, Ridgewood Avenue, Hyannis, Housing Development, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, pocket neighborhood, Alisa Galazzi

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