Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

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

Chatham Store Knits Blankets for HAC's Shelter Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, May 04, 2017 @ 11:00 AM
Great Yarn-2.jpgA Great Yarn owner Mary Weishaar (from left), store employee Antonia DaSilva, knitter Jean Williams, WCVB cameraman Isaiah Bradwell, WCVB reporter Erika Tarantal, HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi, and knitter Barbara Gibson at last month's WCVB taping in Chatham. 

A handmade blanket symbolizes warmth, care and compassion. And this month, A Great Yarn delivered more than 150 such blankets to HAC that will provide just that to our families in shelter.

The donations were tied to a community knit-a-thon organized by the Chatham yarn shop and bookstore and its owners Ron and Mary Weishaar. This is now the second year the Weishaars have mobilized their customers who have knit individual panels that have been turned into blankets for those most in need in the community. Last year, the grassroots effort resulted in 29 blankets and $1,500 donated to HAC.

This year, the store far exceeded those numbers, partially the result of the story being publicized in the Cape Cod Times and the Cape Cod Chronicle. Last month, it found its way onto WCVB Channel 5’s “Five For Good” segment which highlighted what the project meant to the knitters. “It’s just a gift from the community to folks that need help,” Mary told WCVB reporter Erika Tarantal.

“I think this speaks to the good of human beings,” HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi said, during the taping in Chatham. “To think that the people were at home, by themselves, knitting and thinking of our clients is so heartwarming and impressive.”

This year’s effort began in February with roughly 400 knitters – some were experts, others were novices – participating. “I just love doing it because it’s for such a good cause, and it’s relaxing and fun,” said knitter Barbara Gibson of Chatham.

With Cape Cod experiencing the “perfect storm of high real estate prices and low wages,” Galazzi said, this type of gesture – putting one’s talents into making a necessary household item like a blanket – can have great meaning to the recipients who are struggling to move forward with their lives.

“We have people who come to us with nothing. They walk in with literally the clothes they are wearing. And then we have people, their car is full, and they’re homeless and living out of their car,” Galazzi said. “To have a special handmade blanket for these people, whether they have some stuff or have nothing, it’s just the idea of the community coming together, supporting them and helping them.” 

Tags: Family Shelter, donations, A Great Yarn, Alisa Galazzi, charitable giving, WCVB, knit-a-thon, Mary Weishaar, Ron Weishaar

HAC Stresses Need for State Funding of Vital Programs

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 @ 01:26 PM
RHN Edited Photo.jpgHAC's Cassi Danzl (from left), Liz Belcher, CEO Alisa Galazzi and Laura Reckford with State Representative Will Crocker. 

HAC’s leadership visited the State House last month, pushing for funding of programs that help those most in need on Cape Cod and the Islands.

The HAC contingent was there as part of the annual Regional Housing Network (RHN) of Massachusetts’ legislative briefing, a day that gives member agencies of the housing network an opportunity to meet with their legislative delegation to discuss the needs and priorities of those they serve.

HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi was joined by her colleagues Cassi Danzl, Liz Belcher, Laura Reckford and Noah Hoffenberg, in driving up to Boston, where they were able to meet with State Representatives Will Crocker (R-Centerville) and Dylan Fernandes (D-Woods Hole) as well as State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) in offering their insights into the housing needs of those on Cape Cod and the Islands.

The group urged continued support of the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and HomeBASE programs, which provide assistance to those experiencing a housing crisis. Last year, HAC was able to serve 279 families and 134 individuals who were in crisis and in danger of becoming homeless.

HAC staffers also placed an emphasis on funding Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCEC). HAC is one of nine HCECs throughout Massachusetts that conducts intake, housing search, foreclosure and reverse mortgage counseling, and financial literacy workshops for low- and middle-income residents in the region. In 2016, HAC’s HCEC served more than 3,700 people.

Last month’s meetings took place as the state House and Senate begin deliberations over Governor Charles D. Baker’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Tags: HCEC, HomeBASE, Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, housing consumer education, Alisa Galazzi, RAFT, Residential Assistance For Families in Transition

Annual Meeting Celebrates Rick Presbrey's Legacy

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Apr 06, 2017 @ 04:15 PM
2017 Annual Meeting-44-1.jpgHAC founder Rick Presbrey with new HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi. During her speech at HAC's Annual Meeting, Galazzi acknowledged Presbrey's efforts, saying, "None of us would be here if it weren't for you." 

Housing is the foundation upon which all of our endeavors stem from. “Home is where we make our dreams come true,” new HAC Board Chair Mark Forest said. “Home is where we launch our lives. And it is the mission of HAC.”

That mission and the man behind it – HAC founder Rick Presbrey, who retired at the end of January – were celebrated at the agency’s 43rd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition held last month at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis.

Forest, who succeeds outgoing Chair David Augustinho, was one of several to recognize Presbrey’s contributions at HAC’s Annual Meeting. He relayed one story from the early 1980s when a group of people approached Presbrey wanting to create a nonprofit that eventually became the Community Development Partnership in Eastham.

“Rick’s response was, ‘Good idea. How can I help?’” Forest said. “If you went to Rick over the years that is what he would say, ‘Good idea. How can I help?’ For every one of his [accomplishments] we touch or reflect on tonight, there are dozens of others that people don’t even know about.”

New HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi spoke about the importance of her predecessor’s work as it relates to the agency’s services. “We all know that housing is where everything starts,” she said. “Nothing can be accomplished without having a safe, affordable house.”

Presbrey, who started HAC in 1974, said his was a career that was focused on helping people. “We never said no to a need ever,” he said. “We helped as many people as we could. The number now is over 160,000 people. Every one of those that we helped is incredibly important.”

Annual Meeting-10.jpgIn his speech, HAC founder Rick Presbrey (center) acknowledged longtime HAC staffers Michael Sweeney and Nancy Davison who both retired in the past year. 

That work continues under Galazzi’s leadership and guidance. During the night, she called on the community’s support, stressing that “it is going to take all of us” to address Cape Cod’s housing issues.

Among those heeding that call are businesses and organizations like the Cape and Islands United Way, Emerald Physicians and Cape Save which were all honored at HAC’s Annual Meeting.

“The incredible amount of work that goes on through the employees of HAC and its programs is an essential prescription for the health of our community,” said Dr. Kumara Sidhartha, who accepted this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award on behalf of Emerald Physicians.

Barbara Milligan, president of the United Way which was the recipient of the Human Services Partner Award, eagerly accepted Galazzi’s challenge. “Let’s get this problem solved,” she said. “Let’s work on it together.”

HAC also honored Michael Princi, who has served as the agency’s lawyer for 40 years and organized a holiday gift basket party for children in shelter for the past 25 years, as well as longtime board member Edgar Mangiafico, who was the recipient of this year’s Presbrey Public Service Award.

Annual Meeting-15.jpg

Cape Save was the recipient of the Business Partner of the Year Award. The Yarmouth-based company insulates low-income homes for HAC's Energy and Repair Department. 

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, HAC Volunteer Recognition, HAC Energy, Michael Princi, Rick Presbrey, HAC Volunteers, Alisa Galazzi, Ed Mangiafico, Cape and Islands United Way, Cape Save, Emerald Physicians

Editorial: Optimism for our Future

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Thu, Mar 09, 2017 @ 04:05 PM

Galazzi Photo-2.jpg

It has been a whirlwind—in the best way. I have spent the past two months getting to know the staff and dozens of programs at HAC. Each day, I have been amazed at the range of services that this agency accomplishes, the programs that lift people up and build community here on Cape Cod.

Rick Presbrey has built HAC into one of the largest and most comprehensive nonprofit social service agencies on Cape Cod. I am honored to have been chosen to take the reins of the agency and continue the good works that HAC is known for throughout the region.

HAC not only runs four family shelter programs—housing 174 families last year alone—but also runs the largest rental assistance program in the region, with over 1,100 households. Our homeless prevention program ensured 198 families did not become homeless last year. Our Energy and Repair department continues to help families save money by making homes more energy efficient. Our Housing Consumer Education classes and counseling supported everyone from seniors whose homes were at risk of foreclosure to young couples looking to purchase their first home.

I am looking forward to getting to know you, HAC’s supporters. Your support makes these programs possible and your input is important. As we assess HAC’s programs and their impact, I’d like to hear what you think.

There is a lot of work to be done and it is a challenge I welcome. Working with the HAC staff and with others throughout our community, I know we can make strides, together.

Tags: Family Shelter, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, HAC, homeless prevention, Alisa Galazzi