HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP) concluded their inaugural Cape Housing Advocacy Training with a one-day session at Falmouth Public Library at the end of last month.
Over 80 people attended the workshops which were also held on the Mid-Cape, Lower Cape and Outer Cape in February. Cape Housing Advocacy was geared towards residents interested in affordable housing and how they can use their voice to speak up in favor of projects that help address the region’s housing issues.
During the workshops, attendees learned what affordable housing is and why it is needed; how to speak at public meetings with confidence; how decisions related to housing are made at the local level; and how people can get involved in their community.
Stefanie Coxe (pictured above), owner of the political consulting firm Nexus Werx LLC, gave residents one way they can get involved immediately. It is by supporting an initiative of SmarterCape Partnership which is working with towns throughout the Cape to modify their Accessory Dwelling Unit bylaw to add to the available supply of housing units without developing more land.
She concluded her presentation by commending people for taking part in the workshop. “I think it’s tremendously brave and important of you to be here because we’re not going to see any changes without people speaking up,” she said.
To learn more about Cape Housing Advocacy Training and to stay updated on future sessions, click this link.
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Affordable Housing on Cape Cod,
Affordable Development on Cape Cod
Once a month, women at the Cape Cod Senior Residences in Pocasset travel to Michaels in Falmouth, where they knit an array of colorful blankets, hats and scarves. Recently, the group donated those handmade items to the mothers and children staying at HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth.
Those taking part in the knitting group included Rose McGillycuddy (from front left), Helen Duarte and Charlene D’Errico. They were joined by Wanda Blair (from rear left), a certified yarn instructor at Michaels, Lisa Marie Chinappi, an enriched life director at Cape Cod Senior Residences, and Carriage House’s Laurie Ronayne.
You can read more about the group's love of knitting and support of HAC's Carriage House shelter by clicking this link.
Cape Cod Senior Residences,
|Mindy Caron in front of HAC's Carriage House family shelter in North Falmouth.
I love the opportunity to help as many people as possible turn their lives around,” Mindy Caron said last month at HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth. Caron is helping HAC’s clients do exactly that as Carriage House’s new facility director.
Caron, who was hired at HAC two years ago, initially served as the family therapist at Angel House in Hyannis, which supports mothers overcoming addiction and their children. Last fall, she transferred to HAC’s main office where she assisted the agency in redesigning its intake and referral process.
At the end of January, she was promoted to her current position at Carriage House, which assists mothers and their children. The shelter, which typically caters to younger, first-time mothers, has the capacity to house 10 families at any one time.
While the primary goal at Carriage House is to provide housing to keep families safe, Caron said, the shelter supports each mother by giving them the tools, resources and support so they will hopefully never have to return to shelter again.
Her aim with each client is to get them to establish a goal and have them take steps to achieve it. “People who come here have come out of such a crisis that they have often never stopped to question, ‘What do I really want? Where do I want to be in this world?’” Caron said. “We begin asking these questions so these women have a dream because that is the most motivating thing they can have.”
Carriage House offers a number of services that allow clients to work towards such goals. It starts with hands-on case management, Caron said, but also includes assisting with resume writing and accessing jobs; improving their parenting skills; budgeting; and finding housing.
Through its Playspace Program, Horizons for Homeless Children offers playtime opportunities for the younger ones at Carriage House.
Caron, who moved to Cape Cod from Indiana three years ago to be closer to family, was pleased to have found an agency like HAC where she can use her previous social service expertise as a counselor, executive director, and chief operations officer, to benefit our clients. “I love it here, I really do,” she said. “I consider HAC to be a fine organization with stellar goals which are really, really needed on the Cape.”
Horizons for Homeless Children,
Enjoy first-floor living in this one-bedroom, one-bath condo at 110 Altons Lane, Unit 10B. The unit has recently been updated and includes a gas fireplace, hardwood floors, a new kitchen with granite countertops, and a stainless steel appliance package.
This condo is centrally located, a short drive from Mashpee Commons, downtown Falmouth and nearby beaches. It is currently listed at $159,947, which comes with a deed restriction, and a condo fee of $360 per month.
Those interested must be first-time homebuyers, with some exceptions; earn at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Barnstable County; and have no more than $75,000 in household assets. Click this link to apply.
Our real estate department, Cape Community Real Estate, has several additional affordable listings, from Mashpee to Wellfleet, which you can find by clicking here.
If you have questions about this or any other property, contact HAC Real Estate Assistant Betsie Rumbaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 508-771-5400, ext. 285.
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|HAC Event and Resource Development Coordinator Deanna Bussiere (from left) with Army veteran John Martin, Falmoth Toyota General Manager Matt Murphy, and Heroes In Transition Executive Director Nicole Spencer.
"Since September, all that you’ve done for me, it’s like I hit the jackpot, you know,” John Martin said on the last day of January when HAC, Heroes In Transition and Falmouth Toyota came together to give him a used Toyota Camry.
Last fall, HAC was introduced to Martin through the Falmouth Big Fix. An Army veteran, he was one of 18 recipients of the day of service which saw over 340 volunteers come out to make small home improvements for their neighbors in need.
It was through the event that Keith Trott, HAC’s maintenance supervisor, realized that Martin’s Toyota RAV4 was inoperable, and the cost to fix it was beyond his means. Because Martin suffers from respiratory issues and needs transportation to get to and from his medical appointments, Trott said, finding him a new car was the right thing to do.
Together with HAC, Heroes In Transition, which covers the cost of improvements for veterans’ homes during the Big Fix, agreed to fund the purchase of the used car.
Finding the car was left to Falmouth Toyota General Manager Matt Murphy and his staff. While his company strives to be as charitable as it can, Murphy said, it truly appreciates moments like this when it can “drill that down to one individual and do something that’s hopefully special for someone on an individual basis. It’s not something we can do all the time, but when we do it’s really nice to see.”
Read more about last year's Falmouth Big Fix by clicking this link.
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|Santa leads the parade of nearly 200 motorcyles that made their way to HAC's Carriage House shelter last month.
Ariana and her nine-month-old daughter had only been at Carriage House for a little more than a month when nearly 200 motorcyclists delivered over $3,000 worth of toys to the North Falmouth shelter on the first Sunday of November.
“This means a lot,” she said. “I feel like for the kids, Christmas is really important.”
The Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run gives children in HAC’s four family shelters – Carriage House; Angel House in Hyannis; the Village at Cataumet in Bourne; and Scattered Sites in Hyannis – an opportunity to experience the joy of the holidays thanks to the generosity of the bikers who participate in the annual event.
The toy run started 29 years ago as a way to spread some holiday cheer to children in shelter. In 1999, it was named in honor of Joe Wetherbee’s first wife Christina, an organizer of the event, who died of cancer the following spring. Joe and his second wife Clarissa continue to hold the event every year with the support of the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group.
“All of these bikers have come together today for these kids and their families to let each and every one of them know that because they are here… doesn’t mean that they’re forgotten. Because they are not,” an emotional Clarissa told those in attendance who came from as far away as Boston and Rhode Island to participate in the event which also raised nearly $3,000 for HAC’s housing programs. “They will have clothes on their back at Christmas and for their birthdays, and they will have toys, and they will have love.”
Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run,
Since the middle of last month, 140 elected and appointed officials, municipal employees, and members of town boards, committees, and commissions on Cape Cod have come together to learn about ways they can begin to address the affordable housing needs in their communities.
It’s all part of the Cape Housing Institute, a joint initiative between HAC and Community Development Partnership (CDP). During the six-week session, experts in the field of housing, zoning, design, and planning are sharing their insights to assist municipal leaders as they tackle this issue.
Next year, HAC and CDP will be bringing back the Cape Housing Institute while also giving the general public an opportunity to lend their support to the region's housing efforts through Advocacy Training. Click here to learn more and to keep updated on these upcoming housing workshops.
Why He Enrolled in the Institute: I’m looking to be more informed specifically about the housing challenges on Cape Cod.
Why Affordable Housing is an Important Issue: I think our challenge right now [in Mashpee] is new families starting out. They need a break to get started and to build a family that can grow up on Cape Cod. I think [affordable housing] gives them that capability.
Falmouth Town Manager
Why He Enrolled in the Institute: It provides an opportunity to be exposed to, meet with, and discuss with our peers in nearby communities how they are responding to the affordable housing challenges we’re all encountering.
Why Affordable Housing is an Important Issue: Affordable housing is critical because it underlies any community’s ability to really welcome people of all backgrounds and all experiences… It is fundamental to the quality of life in any community to have housing in all price ranges.
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|Among the volunteers at this year's Big Fix were a number of high school students on Cape Cod.
Every Sunday, as a child, I would go to my grandparent’s house for dinner. During those meals, they would give me a list of small chores to accomplish while I was there.
Embedded in these chores were life lessons; it was a way of showing my love for my grandparents. Doing these tasks was also a reminder of our connection to one another and that, in large ways and small, we all have a responsibility to each other.
As my grandparents got older, their needs grew to the point where they relied on more than just small chores. When I went away to college, my cousins stepped up, making sure my grandparents were not only loved, but received the care and comfort they needed to survive.
Unfortunately, not everyone has this luxury in today’s society. Families are often scattered throughout the country and picking up the phone to have a sister, brother, son or daughter quickly help is not so simple.
Once a year at HAC, we fill this void through our Big Fix. It’s an inspiring event, one that saw 340 volunteers help 18 complete strangers last month as part of our 8th Annual Big Fix in Falmouth.
The volunteers did relatively small tasks – clearing brush, installing new kitchen tile, painting a deck – in a few hours. The work may seem minor in nature, but the homeowners we spoke to admitted there was no way they could have done this on their own.
These people included a 91-year-old World War II veteran, a disabled woman who lost her husband a few years ago, and a legally blind couple in their 80s who have been married for over 50 years. For each, it was not easy asking for help. But when they did, there was no shortage of people who eagerly volunteered their time, talents, energy and enthusiasm to provide a little care and a lot of comfort to our neighbors in Falmouth.
It was a wonderful display of kindness that exemplified the best of Cape Cod. And it was an important reminder of the connection and responsibility we have to one another.
Falmouth Big Fix,
Affordable Housing on Cape Cod,
|Clifford Long repairs a front step during the Big Fix in Falmouth last month.
With one knee on the ground, Falmouth’s Clifford Long hammered a nail into a piece of wood, repairing the front steps leading into John Martin’s North Falmouth home.
“I think this is something we should do more of,” said Long, taking a short break as dozens of other volunteers around him removed brush from Mr. Martin’s yard. In the back a crew from Home Depot was staining Mr. Martin’s deck. “So many people, we could make their homes affordable if we all put a little love and attention into them.”
About 20 feet away, Mr. Martin sat in a wheelchair inside his home. An Army veteran who served two years in Korea, Mr. Martin marveled at the kindness of complete strangers like Clifford Long. “You know what this is like? You hear people talking about neighborhoods. If this isn’t a sign of a neighborhood, I don’t know what is.”
What Mr. Martin calls a neighborhood, others call community, and in the middle of last month, there was plenty of that on display during HAC’s 8th Annual Big Fix in Falmouth. A total of 340 volunteers – a record for the Big Fix – showed up to make small improvements to 18 homes owned by veterans, seniors and disabled residents in the Upper Cape community.
If that wasn’t enough, one small group dedicated their time to beautifying the Falmouth Senior Center.
|Big Fix recipient Tina Barr (left) with Rev. John Terry of the First Congregational Church in Sandwich and HAC's Meg Chaffee. Rev. Terry, an advocate for affordable housing, organized a group of volunteers, the "First Fixers", from the church.
“This is really the meaning of community service and it’s what makes the Cape and Islands so special,” said Falmouth Selectman Megan English Braga during the kick-off to the Big Fix at the Lawrence School.
At the kick-off, HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi took a moment to praise the work the volunteers were doing. “It really means a lot to be able to have this community support and to come out and help these [people],” she said. “This helps them stay in place.”
These were people like 91-year-old Jim Crossen who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. At his home, a small crew of volunteers repaired his garage door while his daughter Jamie spoke about what the Big Fix meant to her. “What I think is really great is that knowing my dad, he has given so much to the community and volunteering his time, and now it’s nice it comes full circle and people are doing the same for him,” she said.
“I never could do this myself,” West Falmouth’s Valerie Tillman said outside her home where volunteers were clearing brush, removing weeds, and mulching her flower beds.
It was a similar scene at Dorothy Sgarzi’s home in East Falmouth, where volunteer Dana Robert remarked, “It is amazing how much work you can do with so many hands” after crews had finished beautifying her yard.
While the calendar may have read September 16, Christine (Tina) Barr of East Falmouth said the Big Fix actually felt like a holiday. “It was like Christmas morning,” she said. “This was much more than I could have ever imagined.”
Falmouth Big Fix,
|HAC Case Manager Deborah McDonnell has been assisting Falmouth residents in need since July as part of a Falmouth Human Services grant to serve those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
In July, HAC began a new program working with the Town of Falmouth’s Human Services Department to prevent homelessness for Falmouth residents.
Sometimes asking for help can be the hardest part of homelessness prevention. It took one client six weeks to finally summon up the nerve to meet with HAC Case Manager Deborah McDonnell who manages the Falmouth homelessness prevention program. “Every time he tried to come in, there was some excuse, ‘Oh, the car. Oh, this.’ At the point when he came in, he was so ashamed,” she said. “It must have taken so much courage to start telling his story.”
The father, in his 40s, is raising five children on a $4,000 a month salary; his wife is a stay-at-home mother raising their youngest. “His expenses got out of control with the kids,” McDonnell said. “He didn’t know what to do.”
This is just one of the 19 clients McDonnell is currently working with in Falmouth. Of those, six are homeless and the other 13 are at risk of homelessness.
McDonnell has been assisting these clients thanks to a $20,000 grant from Falmouth that covers two days of case management services for Falmouth’s most vulnerable residents who are struggling for a variety of reasons.
When it comes to homelessness, McDonnell said, the first step is addressing the crisis. The next step is to get clients the services they need to provide short-term stability. And the final step is achieving long-term stability.
McDonnell works internally with HAC staff and externally with a variety of agencies, from the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance to Falmouth Human Services to the Falmouth Service Center to Duffy Health Center to Vinfen, to get these clients the help they need to turn their lives around.
“When people ask for help, of course there is help,” McDonnell said. “The thing I say to clients after hearing their story is that this is all going to be a series of steps. I don’t have a magic answer to give to you today. This is all going to be steps.”
Homeless on Cape Cod,
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