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

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

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, white papers, housing research, Alisa Galazzi, rental housing, Editorial, housing crisis, Rent 365

Editorial: Housing Development Strategy

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Fri, Dec 29, 2017 @ 03:54 PM

Galazzi_HACbeat (2017).jpg

One of my priorities when I came on board at Housing Assistance Corporation last January was to review the agency’s real estate holdings and evaluate their financial viability. This evaluation, coupled with a needs assessment, will lay the foundation for HAC’s long-term housing production strategy and future planning efforts.

Over our 40 years on Cape Cod, Housing Assistance Corporation has developed 500 units of affordable housing. We have partnered with the nonprofit POAH (Preservation of Affordable Housing) on several recent projects, including the award-winning Melpet Farms rental housing complex in Dennis; Canal Bluffs 3 in Bourne, which is currently under construction; and Brewster Woods in Brewster, which is in pre-development.

HAC also owns well-regarded affordable housing rental developments, Kimber Woods and Lombard Farms, both in West Barnstable, as well as Southside Village in Hyannis.

Melpet Farm-2.jpgThe Residences at Melpet Farms in Dennis, completed in 2015. 

We also own a 40-acre site in Sandwich with one home on it, as well as three family shelters and a few apartment complexes, condominiums, duplexes and a single-family home.

Over the next year, we will have completed an evaluation of all of our assets and we will be ready to implement new initiatives.

One new idea our Housing Development Department is pursuing is the development of multi-family housing in “pocket” neighborhoods on appropriate sites that could support up to 10 one- and two-bedroom units. These small developments will replicate old-style neighborhoods with homes surrounding a community green.

Here at Housing Assistance Corporation, we want to continue to be a part of the solution to the shortage of housing in the region while continuing to help our most vulnerable residents. We will continue to explore different ways to fulfill our mission. On behalf of our clients—more than 5,300 last year on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket—thank you so much for your support of Housing Assistance Corporation during the holidays and all year-round.

Tags: Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Melpet Farm Residences, Alisa Galazzi, Canal Bluffs, POAH, Housing Development, Kimber Woods, Lombard Farms, Editorial