Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Get to Know HAC's Leased Housing Inspectors

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Aug 03, 2018 @ 04:28 PM
Leased Housing Photo-1HAC Supervisor of Inspection Services Logan Patrick (left) and Inspector John Paul conduct inspections for households that receive Section 8 vouchers. 

HAC’s Leased Housing Department is not only the agency’s oldest program, it is among its largest, impacting nearly 1,200 households on an annual basis, allowing them to remain on Cape Cod and the Islands thanks to the support of rental housing vouchers.

“I think we touch the most households as a department in a given year,” said HAC Director of Leased Housing Cindi Maule.

“And certainly our inspectors, they’re going into a lot more homes than any other department,” added Anne Williams, the assistant director for leased housing.

Inspections are done to ensure those receiving housing vouchers through the federally-funded Section 8 program are living in safe, decent homes or apartments using a set of regulations prescribed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). At HAC, they are conducted by two employees – Supervisor of Inspection Services Logan Patrick and Inspector John Paul.

Each unit receives an initial inspection, Maule said, which determines the amount of rent suitable for it. Follow-up inspections are conducted either annually or biannually to ensure the landlord is fulfilling their responsibilities and tenants are complying with theirs. It’s a balancing act that Patrick said requires inspectors to remain neutral and protect landlords as well as their tenants.

The Face of Leased Housing

Both Patrick and Paul, Maule said, “are the face of Leased Housing and Section 8… Inspectors are entering into people’s homes and private spaces so they are aware of that and being respectful of that.”

Patrick, who has over 21 years’ worth of experience conducting housing inspections, arrived at HAC a little over a year ago. He most recently served as the director of rental assistance at Housing Solutions in Kingston.

A firm believer in social justice, Patrick understands the importance of programs like Section 8 which accesses federal funds to cover a portion of one’s rent for those who meet income eligibility requirements. That funding helps to stabilize their housing to ensure they can remain here.

“We work with people who have the least in our society and need the most, through no fault of their own,” Patrick said. “We’re talking about the elderly and the disabled. We also service a lot of working class people who, because their wages are so low, can’t afford to rent and they need financial assistance… I want our clients to have housing and be in a safe place to either raise their kids or go to work, and not have to worry about having a roof over their head.”

Tags: Section 8, MA Rental Voucher Program, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Cindi Maule, Leased Housing, Anne Williams, Logan Patrick, John Paul, housing inspections

State Backs FORWARD at the Rock

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jun 08, 2018 @ 11:29 AM
FORWARD-1Attending last month's ceremony were HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi (center) as well as several HAC staff, FORWARD President Kathy Ohman (left of Galazzi), and DHCD Undersecretary Janelle Chan (right). 

Last month, the state gave FORWARD at the Rock, an eight-unit development that will be built in Dennis for adults on the autism spectrum, a financial shot in the arm, bringing the project one step closer to reality.

“This is the way government is supposed to work: local government working with state government to better the lives of our citizens. This is a textbook example,” said State Representative Tim Whelan during a ceremony at the future site of the Dennis development. Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Undersecretary Janelle Chan announced $8 million in funding to support the creation or preservation of almost 100 units of supportive housing throughout Massachusetts, including $1 million for FORWARD at the Rock.

HAC is a consultant on the project and has been lending its support and expertise to FORWARD (Friends Or Relatives With Autism And Related Disabilities) since 2014. That is when Kathy Ohman, president of FORWARD, sought out HAC founder and former CEO Rick Presbrey’s assistance with the housing project.

At the ceremony, Ohman praised HAC for its help since that time. Both Housing Development Director Sandy Horvitz and Assistant Director of Housing Development David Quinn supported FORWARD in writing the grant for the $1 million in state and federal funding it received last month.

To view additional projects in HAC's housing development pipeline, click this link

Tags: Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, FORWARD at the Rock, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Kathy Ohman, Timothy Whelan, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Dennis, Janelle Chan

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

Editorial: How Federal Budget Cuts Could Impact Your Neighbors

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 @ 02:00 PM

Galazzi_Website (2017).jpg

President Trump’s proposed $7 billion budget cuts to affordable housing, community development and social services programs appear to take a direct hit on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens: the elderly, the disabled, and the homeless, including those on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

In this region, as in many other parts of the country, wages have not kept up with cost of living increases. In addition, the Cape’s high rents and home prices, driven up by second homeowners and resort factors, continue to be out of reach for working year-rounders. HAC’s programs funded through HUD dollars are the foundation for economic mobility and stability in our community.

All told about 1,250 of HAC’s clients on the Cape and Islands could be affected if all the President’s recommended cuts take place. These programs bring $11 million annually from the federal government through HAC and into the Cape’s economy through rents and other assistance.

At Housing Assistance Corporation, we know the local stories behind the funding. We know how the assistance that flows from the federal government to our friends and neighbors here helps the neediest among us. It is not an exaggeration to say that these programs save lives.

HAC’s largest program is our Section 8 Housing program, which currently houses more than 1,000 families across the Cape and Islands. Recent news from HUD indicates that thousands of vouchers may be eliminated for low-income working families, seniors and people with disabilities. Besides pumping $750,000 per month into the Cape Cod economy through rents, HAC’s Section 8 program allows working families to stay on Cape Cod.

One of those with a voucher is Amy, a disabled senior who grew up on Cape Cod, but was unable to afford to live here. Because of her voucher, she has been able to stay on Cape Cod, work and raise her family in the town where her parents, grandparents, and great grandparents once lived.

One of our signature programs that is funded through HUD is HAC’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program that enables families to move off of government assistance and to self-sufficiency. A recent graduate of HAC’s Self-Sufficiency program, a single mom named Lisa who has three kids in Barnstable Schools, used the program to help her gain the necessary skills to move up in her job and budget more efficiently. At the end of the program, she is putting a down payment on her first home. That is how this program changes lives.

HAC is joining with other Community Development Corporations throughout the state and the country to urge congressional leaders to continue to support these valuable programs and, especially, the people that these programs serve.

Tags: Section 8, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Family Self Sufficiency, affordable housing, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Budget

Grant Helps House Homeless on Martha's Vineyard

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 @ 04:47 PM
Karen Tewhey Edited (January 2017).jpgKaren Tewhey, HAC's HCEC housing counselor on Martha's Vineyard. 

What can $81,658 buy on Martha’s Vineyard? Housing for seven of the island’s homeless.

That is exactly how HAC will use that money, which was awarded to the agency last month, courtesy of a Continuum of Care grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “It’s the first time in many years Martha’s Vineyard has gotten funding from the [Continuum of Care] so we’re incredibly excited,” said Karen Tewhey, HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center housing counselor on the island.

Tewhey, who wrote the grant, said roughly half of it will go to rent a year-round permanent home for seven homeless men who have strong roots on the island. The remainder will be used to cover the cost of a program manager who will also reside in the house.

“We are looking at potential sites right now,” Tewhey said, with the goal of opening the home at some point this year.

As part of the program, Tewhey said, HAC is currently seeking additional funding for a case manager who will work with each individual, connecting them to medical, mental health, education and employment services needed for them to become self-sufficient.

The HUD grant serves as a long-term compliment to a short-term one that the United Way of Cape Cod is funding to help address homelessness on the Vineyard. That grant is paying for homeless individuals and families to stay in four island hotels over the winter months.

Tewhey, who celebrates her one-year anniversary at HAC this month, said that there have been 80 individuals on the Vineyard who have been identified since last January that are homeless. “The majority of those individuals end up couch surfing,” she said. “We do have probably up to two dozen individuals who have been unsheltered, living outside or in their cars or in sheds.”

These people serve as a reminder of the disparity of wealth that exists on Martha’s Vineyard. “This is primarily a service economy and this is an extraordinarily expensive place to purchase real estate,” she said. “So many people are dependent on rentals and there is a rental housing crisis on the island. We probably need about 1,000 units of rental housing here.”

Tags: homelessness, Martha's Vineyard, Continuum of Care, HUD, Department of Housing and Urban Development, United Way of Cape Cod, Karen Tewhey