Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Editorial: Celebrating 45 Years Building Strong Communities Together

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 @ 12:09 PM

 

45 Years Website Image 2

It is only with the sustained support of a vast network of donors, volunteers, towns, partner agencies, and of course, our dedicated staff, that Housing Assistance has reached more than 170,000 people on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket facing a housing crisis. Thank you for your support!

In 1974, Rick Presbrey founded Housing Assistance, operating the fledgling nonprofit out of a cramped West Yarmouth garage converted into an office. The agency had just one program, overseeing the state’s Chapter 707 Rental Assistance to provide affordable apartments to our region’s workforce, seniors and disabled residents.

Over 43 years of service, Presbrey, the organization, and our network of supporters developed myriad programs to help homeless, low-income and middle-income families achieve a stable housing foundation. When Presbrey retired in 2017, I was grateful for the opportunity to carry on this legacy of building strong communities through housing.

Home is where we make our dreams come true. Home is where we launch our lives. And it is the mission of Housing Assistance. I couldn’t agree more.

This year, I’m asking all of you to join us in ensuring that all our neighbors have the opportunity to have a home. Today, more than ever, our region faces a critical housing shortage. Recent surveys have shown that we need at least 4,500 more small units to house our service workforce, our young professionals, and seniors wishing to downsize.

How You Can Help

It is going to take all of us, acting in many different capacities, to ensure that we are building a solid foundation of housing that can sustain our community into the future. We invite you to join us as we look toward the future and explore new ways we can support housing development that supports our people, respects our environment, and fits within our regional culture. At Housing Assistance, we are committed to expanding our impact on the region, though some exciting new initiatives:

We will train more citizens to advocate for housing solutions that work for their town. This means not just building more affordable housing developments, but also making sure our communities have appropriate housing for their local workforce, young professionals and seniors.

With citizen involvement, we can help towns update zoning laws to allow for more dense, walkable village centers and accessory dwelling units, like apartments in an existing home’s basement or over a garage. Ensuring the availability of appropriate, affordable housing for everyone in our community is the way we can build a strong foundation for our future.

We will develop more innovative partnerships. Through cooperation with other agencies such as job training providers and healthcare organizations, we can make donor dollars go further and increase the benefit we deliver to our most vulnerable neighbors.

And of course we will continue our core programs to help our neighbors in need:

  • We will build more housing for our workforce and the elderly.
  • We will shelter families living on the streets, in the woods, or in their cars.
  • We will educate people to take control of their financial goals and well-being.

Our region is changing, and the housing crisis could be the issue that prevents our region from prospering. Or if we all become part of the solution, housing can be the issue that unites us and makes us stronger. We hope you’ll join us throughout this year in advocating to build stronger communities.

Get Involved with Housing Assistance Corporation

Join us in celebrating our 45th anniversary by helping us move forward in addressing the region's housing crisis by: 

  • Serving as a HAC Volunteer (click here)
  • Serving as an Advocate for the housing needed on Cape Cod and the Islands (click here)
  • Serving as a HAC Donor to ensure we can continue to assist our neighbors in need (click here)

Tags: HAC 45th Anniversary, Alisa Galazzi, Editorial, Rick Presbrey, Housing Development, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, housing crisis, housing advocacy, Cape Housing Advocacy Training, zoning, workforce housing, Family Shelter, housing consumer education, HCEC

Secure Jobs Initiative Now Offered at HAC's Office

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jan 02, 2019 @ 03:10 PM

HAClogoltrhd4cNoYellowGOOD

Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC), and SER-Jobs for Progress, Inc. (SER-Jobs) are pleased to announced a partnership that will locate Secure Jobs Initiative services within Housing Assistance offices at 460 West Main Street, Hyannis.

“People in housing crisis who are homeless or living just one or two paychecks away from disaster really struggle with issues of transportation as they work to stabilize their work and family living situation. Locating our services at Housing Assistance will make it much easier for clients in housing crisis to participate in the classes and services they need to land a job and build self-sufficiency,” said Maria Ferreira-Bedard, Executive Director of SER-Jobs.

The Secure Jobs Initiative is funded by the Department of Transitional Assistance and has as its overarching goal to help clients get on the path to self-sufficiency and ensure they have work that enables them to afford market rate housing for their families. Eligible families are referred to the program by their case manager or a program manager familiar with the clients and must be receiving Emergency Assistance, RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition), or HomeBASE benefits.

“The Secure Jobs program offers critical support for formerly homeless people in terms of training, resume writing, job search, transportation coordination, child care assistance, and even work clothes—all of which are necessary for clients to rebuild their lives so they can support themselves and their families,” said Alisa Magnotta Galazzi, CEO of Housing Assistance Corporation.

Housing Assistance is excited to be able to connect its clients with Secure Jobs programs in Hyannis. In the last year, Housing Assistance prevented more than 1,000 people becoming homeless through its family shelters, prevention and outreach programs, and it helped stabilize more than 2,600 people through housing vouchers, family self-sufficiency programs, weatherization and affordable housing development.

The Secure Jobs Initiative program is scheduled to begin providing services on Cape Cod on January 14. To make referrals or for more information, please contact program coordinator, Lubelia Raposo, at 508-676-1916.

Tags: job training, SER-Jobs, Secure Jobs Initiative, Alisa Galazzi, Maria Ferreira-Bedard, housing crisis, homelessness, homelessness prevention

Editorial: Help Preserve the Cape and Islands Communities We All Cherish

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Wed, Dec 26, 2018 @ 04:49 PM

Galazzi_HACbeat (2017)

Living year-round on Cape Cod is not a place for the faint of heart or those who want to go fast. It’s a place where deep connections and a sense of community are sustained. It’s a place where awe-inspiring beauty surrounds us even in the most mundane of activities like commuting to work; where our great schools and community resources weave an enviable region-wide network of services. It’s a place where our unique history, the family legacies of generational Cape Codders, and a welcome stream of new residents form the foundation from which we all grow and prosper.

Preserving the year-round aspects of the Cape we all know and love is a worthy and challenging undertaking. It will take all of us working together in new ways to achieve it.

I frequently hear from other residents their desire to keep the Cape the same. I appreciate the sentiment. I, too, remember fondly the Cape of 2001 when I first moved here. There are many aspects of the Cape’s seemingly slow-to-change cultures and communities that is reassuring.

However, the fact is that external forces in the marketplace are changing faster than any of us expected, and those forces will change our communities for the worse if we don’t take new action. The advent of online rental platforms like Airbnb, coupled with the Cape being known as a safe investment to off-Cape investors, has put increased pressure on the year-round housing market.

We have seen a decrease of year-round rentals and an increase in seasonal rentals. Our year-round workforce is having a harder and harder time finding housing. The sooner we as a community accept the trend, the better decisions we will make to influence the outcome.

Impacting Our Region

Even though most of us reading this likely have a permanent residence on the Cape or may own a second home here, the hidden costs of a limited supply of year-round rentals presents a significant challenge for our region.

Lack of housing for our year-round workforce will influence our local businesses’ ability to innovate and our relevance as a tourist destination. Those of us stably housed will be impacted with higher costs of goods and services and ultimately by living in a museum—our current year-round friends and neighbors will be replaced by visitors from off-Cape.

So while we prepare to embark on a new year, let’s be grateful that each of us is in a position to influence changes necessary to preserve the place we live and love.

We can advocate at the town level to increase housing available to year-round residents. For example, towns can allow Accessory Dwelling Units by right; update zoning to permit denser, walkable neighborhoods in appropriate locations; and link wastewater planning with housing needs.

In addition, we invite seasonal homeowners to consider renting their home year-round through our Rent 365 program. Learn more about the financial incentive and details of our Rent 365 program and download a copy of our recently published report on the impact of insufficient year-round housing at www.CapeHousing.org

We have an opportunity to maintain the competitiveness of Cape Cod as a vacation destination, a retirement community, and a place for year-round families to thrive—but only if we have housing for our year-round workforce.

This effort will take community-wide involvement. Please contact us if you have ideas, questions, or comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Tags: Alisa Galazzi, Editorial, Rent 365, Housing on Cape Cod, Report, Accessory Dwelling Units, housing advocacy, housing crisis, seasonal rentals, Airbnb

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