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

Donor Spotlight: Cape Associates

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Jul 05, 2018 @ 09:53 AM

 

Cape Associates Photo-1

As a business focused on custom home building and home renovations, it should come as no surprise that Cape Associates has long been connected to HAC’s Big Fix.

But the company’s support of HAC goes far beyond the annual day of service held every fall. It has regularly donated to several of the agency’s annual events, including our Shelter Cape Cod Telethon.

This summer, the construction firm will increase its giving by serving as a Signature Sponsor of HAC’s Oysters & Champagne fundraiser, a new event taking place on Thursday, July 19 at the Wequassett Resort in Harwich.

Sponsoring the event, said Cape Associates CEO Matthew Cole, aligns with his company’s desire to give back to the community. “Without this community, there would be no us,” he said. “We look for opportunities to make the greatest impact [with our giving] as much to create a sustainable future as to pay thanks to that which has been provided to us.”

HAC’s role in the community, he said, is vital to addressing the lack of housing units on Cape Cod. “The most acute need is for additional rental housing,” he said. “We need to create more for our current workforce and for the future workforce. Too many folks are house burdened and paying too much for housing.”

Why We Give: Cape Associates

Over the years, Cape Associates Executive Vice President Richard Bryant has organized a Big Fix team of skilled professionals who donate their time and talents to the day of service.

The annual event has allowed Cape Associates to “get out of the office and use our skills as a great team-building exercise,” company CEO Matthew Cole said. “What we’ve seen is some really neat stories of recipients of the work who always are very grateful, whether it’s a veteran who served in the military or an elderly person who needs a little help. It leaves the group feeling very good about the contributions they’ve made. We take away more than we give through that event.”

As they have in the past, Cape Associates plans on organizing a Big Fix team to assist veterans, seniors and disabled homeowners with small home repairs in Harwich this September.

If you want to support HAC's Big Fix, we are currently seeking Team Leaders, Fundraising Volunteers, and Hands-On Volunteers. Click this link to learn more. 

 

Tags: Cape Associates, Oysters & Champagne, HAC Events, Harwich Big Fix, Big Fix, HAC Volunteers, Donor Spotlight, HAC donors, corporate sponsorship, sponsors

Editorial: A Need for Rental Housing

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Tue, Jul 03, 2018 @ 03:37 PM

 

House For Rent Photo-1

We’re all concerned about maintaining the vibrancy of our local community and economy. The lack of year-round rentals in the region is having a dire effect on the Cape and Islands, an issue reinforced by the Cape Cod Commission’s recent Regional Housing Market Analysis. The problem is only going to get worse. By 2025, the report forecasts the Cape’s housing unit gap will be more than 33,000 homes.

“Cape Cod’s housing supply is heavily skewed towards single family homeownership, resulting in a historically narrow supply of rental housing in our market,” said Cape Cod Commission Affordable Housing Specialist Heather Harper. “Nationally, 30% of the housing is supplied by the rental market. On Cape Cod, we are below the national average with less than 20% of stock provided as rentals.”

Many in our region are working on this problem. At HAC, we are developing rental units; promoting accessory apartments as a zoning change; and holding workshops at our Cape Housing Institute and Advocacy Training with our partner Community Development Partnership.

Another solution is to convert seasonal rentals to year-round use. According to the commission, roughly 58,500 of the Cape’s nearly 160,000 homes are used seasonally. If we can convert some these to year-round use, it will be a step forward to solving the Cape’s lack of rentals.

Unfortunately, this won’t be easy. Realtor Margo Pisacano, owner of Margo & Company, said today’s real estate market is encouraging landlords to sell rather than rent when leases terminate, only serving to exacerbate the problem.

Pisacano has been in the real estate industry since 1992 on Cape Cod, calling recent years “the worst housing shortage I have seen.”

HAC Can Help

Addressing the Cape’s lack of rentals is so important that we at HAC are willing to walk homeowners and investors through the process of converting a seasonal rental into an affordable unit.

We are not naïve about this multi-faceted problem. It is complicated by our seasonal economy and low wages which negatively affect the ability of Cape Codders to afford a rental. Additionally, wealth earned off-Cape allows people to pay exorbitant prices to buy houses on Cape which artificially raises the cost to both purchase a home and rent one.

High prices are forcing our year-rounder workforce out of the market and will eventually force them off Cape Cod. This will have a negative impact on employers. As Matthew Cole, CEO of Cape Associates, said, “the available pool of workers suffers as a result of a lack of housing.”

Using our existing inventory for more year-round rentals makes financial sense for the community, for property owners, for businesses, and the local economy. There is a perception that short-term rentals are more lucrative, but our research shows this is not the case. If you are interested in renting your property to a year-round renter, call me today at 508-771-5400 ext. 225 and we can help you get started.

Tags: rental housing, year round rentals, affordable housing, Housing Development, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Heather Harper, Cape Cod Commission, Cape Associates