Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Helping Cape Communities Address Affordable Housing

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 @ 11:02 AM
Cape Housing Institute Photo-1.jpgSandwich Housing Authority Executive Director Paula Schnepp (from left), Community Development Partnership Executive Director Jay Coburn talk to Matt Pitta from Cape Cod Broadcasting during a recent interview. 

This month, HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP) are embarking on a new initiative, the Cape Housing Institute, which will help town officials boost the development of affordable housing in their individual communities.

HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi said the institute will give municipal leaders “the tools and language they need to be able to create housing for the workforce and all residents of their community at all income levels.”

The institute is a six-week workshop which began last Tuesday and runs through Thursday, November 16. Sessions will last two hours and take place on the following days and locations: Wednesdays, from 2-4 pm, at the Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS in West Yarmouth; Wednesdays, from 6-8 pm, at the Mashpee Public Library; Thursdays, from 2-4 pm, at the Wellfleet Preservation Hall; and Thursdays, from 7-9 pm, at the Harwich Community Center.

Each week will feature guest speakers who will touch upon specific aspects related to affordable housing development. The topics, from week one to week six, are an introduction to housing; planning and needs assessment; zoning and site selection; financing and development; making the case for affordable housing; and developing an action plan.

The institute’s speakers are Judi Barrett, economic development director for the Plymouth Regional Economic Development Foundation; attorney Peter Freeman, a partner at the Freeman Law Group in Yarmouth Port; Cape Cod Commission Affordable Housing Specialist Heather Harper; Jennifer Goldson, a certified professional planner and founder of JM Goldson in Boston; Laura Shufelt, assistant director of community assistance for Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP); Kevin Maguire, a development consultant and co-founder of Oxbow Partners; architect Richard Fenuccio, president of Brown, Lindquist, Fenuccio & Raber Architects, Inc. in Yarmouth Port; Susan Connelly, director of community assistance at MHP; Maura Tsongas, director of real estate development at Neighborhood of Affordable Housing in Boston; Shelly Goehring, program manager at MHP; and Paula Schnepp, executive director at the Sandwich Housing Authority.

Presenting sponsors for the housing institute are Cape & Islands License Plate Fund; Cape & Islands United Way; Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank Charitable Trust; Cape Cod Foundation; the Estate of Bernard Kaplan; and Shepley Wood Products. The Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS is serving as a location host for the institute.

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

Editorial: Threats to HCEC Funding

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 @ 11:02 AM

Galazzi_HACbeat (2017).jpg

Since I arrived at HAC in January, I have been struck by the number of people that our agency is able to help on a daily basis. Last year alone we provided over 5,600 clients with the housing services they needed to move forward with their lives in a positive direction.

Of that number, more than 1,200 people were served through our Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC). HAC’s HCEC is one of only nine in Massachusetts, and the only one that exists for those on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Due to recent budget cuts made by Governor Charlie Baker, these nine HCECs are being threatened, which will directly impact a large number of clients we serve at HAC. These are our neighbors - teachers, plumbers, electricians, firefighters, waiters, certified nursing assistants and more - who need help, support and housing stability to remain here on Cape Cod.

At HAC, our HCEC conducts client intake, determining whether there is an internal HAC program that can assist them or we need to refer them to an outside agency. Our HCEC also assists clients with housing search, working with them to find safe, secure housing in the region; provides foreclosure and reverse mortgage counseling; and offers financial literacy workshops for low- and middle-income residents.

Maureen Fitzgerald, executive director of the Regional Housing Network, which is made up of the nine HCECs throughout the state, recently wrote that, “the HCECs continue to be one of the Commonwealth’s most effective, impactful, and far-reaching housing and homelessness prevention programs. In an environment where resources are so narrowly targeted, the Centers fill in the gaps, ensuring that the right people get to the right resources at the right time.”

The statement was made as part of a letter written in light of Governor Baker’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget which had $320 million worth of vetoes, including a $600,000 reduction in funding for HCECs statewide. This will negatively affect agencies like HAC’s HCEC which is working with individuals and families at risk of homelessness, facing eviction, and seeking to find affordable rentals.

Because of this threat, I have spent time at the State House in Boston this month, meeting with our legislators to urge them to restore both the $800,000 vetoed in Line Item 7006-0011 and the language directing support to the state’s HCECs. We must ensure that the proper state funding is in place so agencies like HAC can continue to serve these clients in an effective and efficient manner.

Tags: HCEC, Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, State budget, housing consumer education, Alisa Galazzi, Governor Charlie Baker

HAC and CDP to Launch Cape Housing Institute Next Month

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Sep 08, 2017 @ 05:07 PM
IMG_5763.jpgHAC CEO Alisa Galazzi and Community Development Partnership Executive Director Jay Coburn announce the Cape Housing Institute at the One Cape Summit held in June. 

Next month, a collaborative effort between HAC and Community Development Partnership to address the region’s housing issues will begin in earnest with the launch of the Cape Housing Institute.

Starting on Wednesday, October 11 and running through Thursday, November 16, the institute will provide elected and appointed officials as well as town planning and municipal housing employees throughout Cape Cod the tools and resources they need to support the development of affordable housing in their communities. “This is to help the decision makers who have voting authority on housing projects in their towns,” said HAC’s Director of Community Resources Laura Reckford, who has been involved in the planning of the housing institute.

A total of six sessions will take place, starting with an introduction to affordable housing during the first week. Additional topics include planning; conducting a needs assessment; zoning and site selection; financing affordable housing projects; making the case for affordable housing; the Request For Proposals (RFP) process; and next steps.

HAC and Community Development Partnership have secured 12 speakers, from throughout Cape Cod and Massachusetts, who will provide municipal officials with the education and guidance needed to boost the production of affordable housing in their individual communities in a way that makes sense and which fits the character of their town.

Classes are free and will be held at four separate locations throughout the Cape. Hosts include the Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS in Yarmouth, from 2-4 pm, on Wednesdays; the Mashpee Public Library, from 6-8 pm on Wednesdays; Wellfleet Preservation Hall, from 2-4 pm, on Thursdays; and the Harwich Community Center, from 7-9 pm, on Thursdays.

The institute is the first step of a three-pronged approach that HAC and Community Development Partnership are taking as part of the Cape Community Housing Partnership. The goal is to boost affordable housing production throughout the region in a meaningful way. Next year, the two agencies will launch an advocacy training effort for residents and community leaders as well as a public education campaign to explain the importance of affordable housing on Cape Cod.

Elected and appointed municipal officials or town staff interested in signing up for the Cape Housing Institute can do so by clicking the button below. 

Cape Housing Institute Registration

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

Editorial: Meaningful Impact of Canal Bluffs

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 @ 11:52 AM
Canal Bluffs-1.jpg

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

Building a Community in Bourne

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Aug 10, 2017 @ 04:01 PM

Canal Bluffs-22.jpg

Those who attended last month's groundbreaking included Julie Creamer (from left) of POAH; State Representative Randy Hunt; POAH CEO Aaron Gornstein; U.S. Representative Bill Keating; Greg Janey, owner of Janey Construction; MassHousing Executive Director Timothy Sullivan; State Senator Vinny deMacedo; HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi; and Chrystal Kornegay, undersecretary for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

When HAC and the Preservation Of Affordable Housing (POAH) completed Clay Pond Cove in Bourne five years ago, Nancy Nygard became its first resident.

Since then, she has found it to be more than a home. It’s a community where her neighbors have become her friends. “It is wonderful,” she said. “Everyone cares for each other.”

During last month’s groundbreaking for what will be the final of three phases of a mixed-income housing development HAC and POAH are building at this 19-acre site, property manager Karen Kelley of POAH Communities said this is an example of what residents really cherish here. “A lot of people want a home to be a nice, safe place, and for there to be a strong sense of community,” she said. “Those things are really important to people.”

That is what the residents living in the 28 affordable apartments at Canal Bluffs and the 45 individual, family and senior apartments at Clay Pond Cove have experienced. And that is what HAC and POAH hope to provide with the remaining 44 affordable and market rate townhouse-style apartments that will be built over the next year as part of Canal Bluffs III.

When complete, Canal Bluffs will have allowed “117 families who get to live here an opportunity to come home, 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,” said HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi.

Canal Bluffs-4.jpgNancy Nygard (left) with Cathie Michel, friends and neighbors who have discovered a sense of community at Canal Bluffs. 

She and several other speakers credited HAC founder Rick Presbrey, who attended the ceremony, for making the project possible. The site was once slated to become an office building for a failed dot com company before businessman Bill Zammer of Mashpee, purchased it in the hopes of turning it into a housing development.

That plan never came to fruition. Presbrey was able to work out a deal with Zammer for HAC to purchase the property for $2.1 million. Presbrey then came to an agreement with the town that allowed HAC and POAH to turn the site into an affordable housing development that has added to the Cape’s rental stock.

“And to you, Rick, for what you have done over 43 years in this region providing housing for people that is one of the most basic needs we can have in our lives and understanding the significance of that,” State Senator Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo said. “You have left a huge legacy . . . and I apologize that people will not even know who made that difference for them, but for those of us today we know it was you and we thank you so much for your efforts on all these people’s behalf.”

U.S. Representative William Keating said the project fills a critical need for moderate and affordable housing on Cape Cod, allowing people who work here to live here. He said it was a project made possible through the cooperation of federal, state, local, and nonprofit agencies all coming together towards a common aim.

State Representative Randy Hunt said projects like this are a critical piece to preserving the character of Cape Cod. “I’m glad people are really united in getting in front of [these issues] and are starting to put more of this type of housing into the market which will allow the working class people to live here,” he said.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Bourne, Rick Presbrey, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Alisa Galazzi, Canal Bluffs, POAH, rental housing, Bill Keating

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

Editorial: Aligning Our Goals, Strengthening Our Mission

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Fri, Jun 30, 2017 @ 04:41 PM
HAC Goals-2 Edited.pngHAC staff take part in a recent goal-setting workshop under the direction of Nathan Herschler. 

As the new CEO at HAC, my vision is to improve the agency so that it continues to be a high-performing agency that consistently delivers meaningful, measurable, and financially sustainable services to our clients.

This month, I’ve been pleased that the entire agency has gone through a multi-tiered team-building exercise focused on goals. I put together a list of seven areas for us to look at as we identify goals for the coming year: HAC’s staff; financial operations; data collection and analysis; collaboration and customer service; process improvement; program outcomes; and external evaluation.

To take the staff through the goals process, I brought in Nathan Herschler , who is the full-time director of program operations for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). At IFAW, Nathan manages the annual budgeting process, coordinates program planning, monitoring, evaluation, and overseas compliance with government funding.

Having an outsider with his level of expertise analyze HAC’s work is an invaluable tool that will lead to internal efficiencies which will ultimately benefit HAC’s clients.

Nathan volunteered his time—more than 50 hours!—to help HAC staff draw up goals in the seven areas.

How did we get free help from such a highly qualified individual? In Nathan’s own words, he said he wanted to help because, “HAC is such an important part of the community. I wanted to do whatever I could to support the team and its mission.”

Nathan led short sessions with each department to look at their strengths and the challenges they face. The sessions also took this review a step further by evaluating the agency as a whole.

Nathan explained his work with HAC this way: “This goal-setting exercise is just part of an iterative planning, action, and learning process aimed at continuously improving the services provided by HAC. In the end, all nonprofits are looking to maximize the amount of quality program service they can deliver to their stakeholders. Good planning leads to effective action which leads to impact for those HAC serves.”

Each department presented their goals at an all-staff meeting on June 22. Those goals will be used to to measure our impact, build upon strengths, and mitigate challenges over the course of the next fiscal year.

Through this important undertaking, we are strengthening and building resources so that HAC will continue to thrive and serve our community.

Tags: strategic planning, Alisa Galazzi, team building, HAC Goals

Ms. Galazzi Goes to Washington

Posted by Laura Reckford on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 @ 05:41 PM
RHN working with Rep. Keating-1.jpgHAC CEO Alisa Galazzi (third from left) sits with members of the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts during their meeting with Congressman Bill Keating in his Washington, D.C. office. 

Last month, HAC’s CEO Alisa Galazzi and Director of Community Relations Laura Reckford journeyed to Washington, D.C. with members of the Regional Housing Network (RHN) of Massachusetts. The purpose of the trip was to explain the importance of the Section 8 voucher program to the Massachusetts congressional delegation.

The RHN contingent had face-to-face meetings with Congressman Bill Keating and Senator Ed Markey. In addition, they made presentations to the congressional appropriations committee staff.

The Section 8 program is supported by funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). President Donald Trump has proposed steep cuts—at least $7 billion—to affordable housing, community development and social service programs supported by funds that flow from HUD to communities across the country.

These cuts will have a detrimental impact to the 1,250 clients that HAC serves on Cape Cod and the Islands who receive Section 8 and other rental housing vouchers. And the cuts would have a ripple effect on the region’s economy.

The cuts would affect the economy in several ways. First, the Section 8 program alone brings $750,000 per month to the local economy in payments to Cape Cod landlords. Across the Commonwealth, almost $20 million per month goes into the local economy through the Section 8 program.

Second, without this rental assistance, working families would not be able to afford their apartments and could be forced into shelter. The nightly cost of sheltering a family—estimated at roughly $100 per night—is much steeper than the approximately $900 per month cost of rental assistance that keeps a family in their home. Last year, HAC housed 175 families, including 195 children, in our four family shelter programs. Being in shelter stresses a family in several ways, especially with children whose schooling can be disrupted.

Another economic cost is the ripple effect to the region. When workers lose their home, it becomes almost impossible for them to hold down a job. Severe cuts to the Section 8 program would undoubtedly have impacts on local employment numbers and other economic indicators.

Tags: Section 8, Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, homeless shelters, MA Rental Voucher Program, HUD, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Alisa Galazzi, Laura Reckford, Bill Keating

HAC Welcomes Jodi Keegan to the Agency

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, May 25, 2017 @ 09:19 AM

Jodi Edited-1.jpg

In the few weeks that Jodi Keegan has been at HAC, she has quickly discovered that the agency’s work is all about serving the clients. “When I first started here, it was really emotional listening to some of the client experiences,” she said, relaying an instance in which the expense of paying for new brakes on a car nearly led one single mother to homelessness. “HAC was able to step in and help. Hearing that really touches at my heartstrings and that’s just a small part of what we do.”

Since the beginning of April, Keegan has played a role in HAC’s efforts as its new executive coordinator. In that capacity, she is assisting CEO Alisa Galazzi and supporting the senior management team.

A native Cape Codder, Keegan lives in Falmouth with her husband Patrick, a goldsmith at Keegan’s Jewelers. The couple have four children, Joscelyn, Danielle, Garrett and Jaimie.

She comes to HAC from Gosnold, having spent the past nine years as its development coordinator. Prior to that, she enjoyed a 15-year career in the banking industry. These experiences provided Keegan with a knowledge of the best practices in healthcare and customer service that is now influencing her work at HAC.

She expressed excitement for her latest career challenge. “I am filled with pride knowing the number of people that we’ve been able to help,” she said. “I love being here. I love the work that we do. I enjoy interacting with our clients. And I am passionate about Alisa’s vision for HAC’s future and honored to play a part in that vision.”

As a member of the Wampanoag Tribe, HAC’s mission closely aligns with Keegan’s passion for community. “I feel a strong connection to Mother Earth and I find great fulfillment in helping others,” she said.

Tags: Alisa Galazzi, HAC staff, Jodi Keegan

Editorial: Working with our Legislators to Tackle the Cape's Housing Challenges

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Tue, May 16, 2017 @ 10:50 AM

Julian-3.jpgState Senator Julian Cyr (second from left) with HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi (from left), Director of Leased Housing Cindi Maule, Director of Family and Individual Services Cassi Danzl and Chief Operating Officer Walter Phinney. 

I have been spending my first few months as CEO of HAC getting to know the leaders in our community. It has been particularly gratifying to meet members of our legislative delegation and to learn of their passion to help all the residents of our region.

When State Senator Julian Cyr stopped by HAC’s offices recently, he said housing has been one of the main issues at the forefront of his constituents’ minds.

During his visit, Senator Cyr told us, “Housing and access to housing that is affordable is a top issue for us on Cape Cod, on Martha’s Vineyard and on Nantucket. Our real estate market is so aggressive here that most anyone who is a middle-income wage earner, including working families, is struggling to make it here… We really need to have housing that meets our needs.”

Meeting the needs of those in the region when it comes to affordable housing has always been a major focus for HAC and it will continue to be so in the coming years.

I was pleased to learn that even prior to becoming a State Senator in November, Senator Cyr said, he has long admired HAC’s work on the Cape and Islands. “HAC is just one of those organizations that is a real pillar of the community. HAC has been doing work for generations to make sure our most vulnerable have housing.”

After taking a tour of HAC’s offices and meeting the staff on the front lines of delivering housing services for HAC, the Senator gave his impressions of the meeting. “I was just really impressed with the scale and scope of how HAC helps people realize housing on Cape Cod and the Islands, from the most vulnerable people who are homeless living in the streets to helping people improve the energy efficiency of their homes. I have a renewed appreciation for how much HAC does.”

We’re looking forward to partnering with Senator Cyr and the rest of the Cape and Islands delegation on strategic regional issues, and having our voice and mission loudly and clearly represented at the State House.

It is through these partnerships between HAC, our legislators and other leaders in the community, that we can add more resources for our clients and do more to help them succeed.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, homelessness, State budget, Alisa Galazzi, Julian Cyr