Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Editorial: Cape Housing Institute a Step Towards Progress

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 @ 11:29 AM
Cape Housing-3-1.jpgArchitect Rick Fenuccio (left), president of Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Architects, and John Bologna, CEO of Coastal Engineering, are two of the presenters who have lent their expertise to the Cape Housing Institute. 

We kicked off the inaugural Cape Housing Institute this fall and it has been great to see so many town officials take advantage of this training. For instance, Mashpee Selectman John Cotton said he does not have all the answers. That’s why he signed up for the Cape Housing Institute because he told us he has a desire to learn more. 

John is one of roughly 140 officials who are taking part in the institute for similar reasons. They understand a shortage of affordable housing is a problem on Cape Cod, and they want to find ways to address that problem through development that meets the needs of their individual communities.

There are town managers, members of community preservation committees, chairs of local housing authorities, and more, who spend two hours each week to learn about topics such as Chapter 40B, housing production plans, and zoning, to name a few, from local and regional experts in the field of law, design, housing, and development.

Speakers have included Rick Fenuccio, president of Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Architects and Laura Shufelt, assistant director of community assistance at Massachusetts Housing Partnership.

During Rick’s talk, he focused on zoning and ways community leaders can use it as a tool to shape their affordable housing strategy. “Control your own destiny or someone else will,” he said.

Laura spoke about housing production plans, at one point highlighting the importance of both education and advocacy. “Getting leaders, town officials, on board is a great first step,” she said. “Advocates can’t do it alone. We need to have collaboration with lots of folks to get it done.”

We know that solving the Cape’s housing needs will not be immediate. And it cannot be done individually. We believe the institute is a great first step; it’s been encouraging to see that there are so many who fall in line with John Cotton’s way of thinking – that education can lead to progress.

But it does not end with education. We must take what we’ve learned during the housing institute and turn it into positive action. That will require municipal leaders, developers, planners, and the public coming together to take the next steps so we can begin to achieve the type of housing that meets the needs of our community and those who contribute to it.

At the beginning of next year, we will take another step towards progress: Advocacy Training for the general public. We hope you’ll join us.

Cape Housing Institute and Advocacy Training

In the winter of 2018, HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP) in Eastham, will be launching Advocacy Training for the general public. Next year, we will also be bringing back the Cape Housing Institute for municipal officials who were unable to attend our inaugural session.

Click here to learn more about these initiatives and to stay updated on when the next training sessions will begin. 

 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, education, Affordable Development on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, Alisa Galazzi, Cape Housing Institute, Advocacy Training

Nutrition Workshop Brought to Village at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 @ 03:45 PM
Cataumet Nutrition Photo-1.jpgCooking Matters' Catherine Cleary (middle) with Margaret Peters (left), administrative support at The Village at Cataumet, and facility director Paula Mallard. 

At HAC’s family shelters, the goal is to not only house clients, but to give them the tools to care for themselves and their children. Nutrition is a key part of this equation and recently HAC welcomed Catherine Cleary, program manager for Cooking Matters, to The Village at Cataumet to provide a handful of parents with the skills necessary to ensure their children are fed healthy meals at home.

“It’s not about teaching people,” Cleary said about the aim of the initiative, which she has brought to food pantries, public libraries, Head Start programs, and family shelters throughout Massachusetts. “It’s about building confidence in caregivers of young children.”

For a little more than an hour, Cleary engaged mothers in a conversation about everything from shopping for nutritious foods to cooking those foods for their families, all while on a budget. She stressed that parents are the best judge of what choices to make. “You all know what is best for you and your family,” she said.

She began with simple advice – always make a list, for example - that can help clients with budgeting and keeping them better organized while shopping.

During her visit, Cleary touched upon several key areas that included how to choose produce, how to choose whole grain foods and why it matters, how to read the nutrition labels on the food packages, and why the unit price on food is important.

Shelter clients were interested in strategies for getting children to eat healthier. Cleary suggested cooking two types of vegetables, such as peas and carrots, and having the children decide what they want to eat.

In her house, Cleary said she will always have low-salt peanut butter, jelly, and whole wheat bread to make sandwiches for her children. “At least you have a couple of food sources there,” she said, which can then be combined with fruits and vegetables. “That’s more balanced than oodles of noodles.”

These were just a few of the tips Cleary had for clients to empower them to make healthier decisions when cooking affordable meals for their children. The session represented a first for the shelter and was something that its facility director, Paula Mallard, said provided practical skills to clients which they can begin applying immediately and continue to use once they transition into permanent housing.

Tags: Family Shelter, Paula Mallard, Village at Cataumet, education, Cooking Matters, Margaret Peters, nutrition

HAC to Hold Utility Assistance Workshop in August

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 @ 04:45 PM

Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) will be holding a free Utility Assistance Workshop on Tuesday, August 4, from 1 to 3 pm, at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis. 

This workshop will benefit those who may be behind on their electric bills, have an old bill they can not pay off or need assistance in setting up payment arrangements. Income-eligible residents may qualify for a discounted rate through their utility provider. 

A representative from Eversource will be in attendance to assist residents with their bills. For additional details call Liz Belcher at 508-771-5400, ext. 210 or click on the image below. 

Utility Assistance Workshop resized 600

 

Tags: HCEC, HAC, education, utility assistance, eversource

Making Science Come Alive at Village at Cataumet

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 @ 02:39 PM
DSC 4223 resized 600  Is it safe? Noah cautiously touches a live horseshoe crab held by science instructor Kim Torres.

Officially summer did not start until June 21, but three days beforehand a group of more than a dozen parents and their children got a jump start on the hectic tourist season inside the confines of the community room at HAC’s family shelter the Village at Cataumet.

Though there was no sand or ocean water, the setting had all the signs of what summer means to many here on Cape Cod: the beach.

That was all due to a few unusual visitors – a horseshoe crab and several hermit crabs – that made their way into the HAC shelter thanks to a grant the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care awarded to the Bourne Early Childhood Council.

That money paid for a hands-on educational session led by Kim Torres, owner of the Chatham-based company Elements, Etc., which allowed children of all ages to get close and personal with a few lively sea creatures along with some much softer stuffed ones as well.

The most entertaining part of the hour and a half long workshop were the actual animals that Torres brought with her straight from Pleasant Bay.

The horseshoe crab was first as Torres gave some key facts about it before placing it on a small blue tarp in the center of the room where it maneuvered around the small feet of children standing over it.

“See the long tail?” she asked.

“Yeah!” the kids screamed.

“Everyone thinks there is poison in it, but there is not,” she said, explaining that the tail is used by the horseshoe crab as a swimming mechanism.

DSC 4218 resized 600

“This is the way to hold him,” she said, with her hands on the side of the animal.

Though horseshoe crabs look “scary,” Torres said, “they are very gentle.”

And they are important to humans, currently being used as part of cancer research. “We are close to finding a cure for cancer because of their blood,” Torres said.

Torres also showcased much smaller hermit crabs which Paula Mallard, director of the Village at Cataumet, shied away from. “Those are creepy,” Mallard laughed. “I can touch the other one, but those are just creepy.”

Even some children – like Krista Hansen’s one-year-old son Noah - were initially reluctant to get too close to the animals. Eventually, Noah summoned up the courage to touch the horseshoe crab’s shell.

“That little one, he was scared during the first part of the show,” Torres said later. “It is nice to see them overcome that fear and get excited and actually learn more about science.”

Hansen, whose four-year-old son Matthew also took part in the educational workshop, was thrilled to see her kids interacting with real creatures found on Cape beaches. “I love this,” she said. “It is cool to see my kids having fun.”

At one point she even got in the act, touching the horseshoe crab after which she joked, “I want one as a pet now.”

Along with the live animals Torres had a variety of dried and stuffed animals on display including a sea star, sponges and a plush horseshoe crab. And she gave children the opportunity to color a picture of a seahorse as well as a shark.

“I think this is great,” Mallard said. “The kids are having fun and it is educational.”

The fact that children enjoyed the experience was a reward for Torres who hoped this may inspire them to explore their natural surroundings. “Most kids don’t know this is out there and that these are animals they are living with,” she said, adding that through classes like this, “they can appreciate nature and start to notice the stuff around them.”

DSC 4229 resized 600

Tags: HAC, science, Paula Mallard, Kim Torres, Village at Cataumet, education