Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Vivapalooza Winner Gives Back To NOAH Shelter

Posted by Laura Reckford on Sat, Aug 17, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Bobbie Curley of West Barnstable believes “it is important to help people get a better start” and “everybody deserves a second chance.”

That is why she decided to donate a $100 Stop and Shop gift card she won in a drawing at the Housing Assistance Corporation table at the Vivapalooza expo to the NOAH Shelter to be used to help feed people in need.

Emerald Physician’s Vivapalooza took place on Sunday, June 2, filling Barnstable High School with vendors promoting community resources for healthy living.

At HAC’s booth, staff sold Cape Cod Caring Cards, formerly known as food certs. The cards have their full cash value and can be used at many stores on the Cape. For each gift card purchased, 5 percent of the money spent benefits HAC’s Project Prevention, which provides financial assistance to prevent Cape Codders from becoming homeless. Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council and Barnstable Interfaith Council sponsor the cards.

When Ms. Curley found out she won the gift card drawing, she was surprised. “I don’t usually win anything,” she said.

Then she asked, “Now, is that something you could use for clients at one of your shelters?”

Ms. Curley said she regularly buys Cape Cod Caring Cards from the Barnstable Interfaith Council at village fairs and other events.

HAC put Ms. Curley’s donation to use at the NOAH Shelter where it was used to stock up the pantry with items unavailable from the food banks.

Tags: Project Prevention, Food Certs, Prevention, housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, NOAH, Cape Cod Caring Cards, Gift Cards for prevention

Cornell Students Give Project Prevention a Boost

Posted by Julie Wake on Mon, Apr 15, 2013 @ 11:00 PM

Six students from Cornell spent their spring break with HAC. By the end of the week, they’d helped save someone from homelessness.
Cape Associates
After getting an introduction to HAC, the students learned about Project Prevention, a program that provides temporary financial assistance to families and individuals at risk of homelessness. The program is largely funded by the Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council to Prevent Homelessness and the Barnstable Interfaith Council. DYECH and BIC raise money by buying grocery gift certificates, getting a 5 percent discount, and selling them at face value. The “profit” is then donated to Project Prevention.

The students’ goal for the week was to develop a presentation that will improve outreach efforts to sell the grocery gift cards. After meeting representatives from DYECH and BIC, and hearing from several clients, the students started by creating a survey. They were seeking to find out how much staff members at HAC, Emerald Physicians and Cape Associates know about the gift card program and what barriers might prevent them from participating in it.

The students came up with the name Cape Cod Caring Cards and a tagline: “Help your neighbors keep their homes, every time you shop.” They created a spoken presentation with visuals, including a logo.

After getting feedback from a test run with HAC staffers, the students delivered the presentation to members of the Emerald Physicians management team. At the end of the presentation, Dr. Cormac Coyle, Emerald’s medical director, said, “We’re in the prevention business, too. Without housing and health, you’re not in good shape.”

Dr. Coyle agreed to buy $10,000 worth of Cape Cod Caring Cards, for re-sale to his staff members. That will result in $500 raised for Project Prevention, which is enough to save someone from homelessness.

On the way back from a presentation at Cape Associates in Eastham, HAC CEO Rick Presbrey took the students to the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum and showed them several of HAC’s affordable housing developments. The students also prepared dinner for and spent an evening with children and mothers staying at Carriage House, one of HAC’s family shelters.

This is the 9th year a team has come from the school as part of the Cornell Public Service Center’s Alternative Break Program.

“I wanted to do something more worthwhile than just sitting at home over spring break,” one student wrote in an evaluation form. “Although the overall process may have been tiring, the end product was really exciting,” wrote another.

This year’s group was team leader Abigail Bell (who is majoring in natural resources) of Nyack, N.Y.; Steven Bramwell (English) of Cleveland; Christine Chow (biological sciences) of San Jose, Calif.; Sagar Galani (hotel administration) of Mumbai, India; Huidong He (economics and math) of Beijing, China; and Derrick Yee (computer science) of Cupertino, Calif. The students were joined by driver Dino Tsipouroglou of Ithaca, N.Y., who hopes to replicate the Caring Cards program in Ithaca to help people at risk of homelessness in that city.

The Cornell students and the HAC staff would like to thank Steve Sozanski of DYECH and Kathy Sandell of BIC for their help with the project.  We’d also like to thank Emerald Physicians and Cape Associates for being part of our first phase of focus groups. 

Final Concept Logo tag line

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Cornell, Food Certs, Cape Cod Caring Cards

Prevention: A Better Solution to Housing the Homeless

Posted by Julie Wake on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 @ 07:00 AM
Faith toy B&W resized 600Massachusetts will phase out a program that places homeless families in hotels and motels at taxpayer expense when there is no room in emergency shelters. Statewide there were 1,700 families in hotels last month – a practice that is not followed on Cape Cod.

HAC does not house families in local motels because the regional network of shelter providers have, so far, had the capacity to meet the demand, according to Allison Alewine, vice president of program operations for HAC. Part of the reason why HAC has been able to keep homeless families out of hotels is Project Prevention.

Developed in 1993, Project Prevention stops homelessness in its tracks by preventing it from happening in the first place. It is also a program that saves money – family homelessness costs the taxpayer more than five times the cost of prevention ($10,000 as opposed to about $1,500).

Last year, 1,300 new families and 2,500 new individuals contacted us for help because their housing was at risk. HAC responds to the complexities of each case through referrals inside and outside of HAC, informal mediation with a landlord, referrals to community resources for money, in addition to small, tightly controlled HAC-generated grants. As it stands, we can only help about 1/3 of the families and 1/10 of the individuals who contact us, entirely due to a lack of financial resources. This is a tsunami of need which crashes over onto the greater community. To contribute to Project Prevention is an opportunity to assist virtually every other human-services institution on Cape Cod and the Islands.

“Motels provide a roof over the head but little else,” said an editorial in the Enterprise newspapers. “There are no cooking facilities, there is no place for children to play and in some cases visitors are not allowed. They are far from an ideal solution. … The better solution is to keep families in their homes to begin with. It can be done with less money than the state pays for motel rooms and, better yet, it makes for healthier families. Homeless prevention is where the state should put its money.”

Much of the funding for Project Prevention comes from the Barnstable Interfaith Council and the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Homeless.

DYECH and BIC support Project Prevention through the sale of grocery and other gift cards. When you purchase gift cards through this program, merchants give a percentage of the sale (usually 4 to 8 percent, but in some cases as much as 18 percent) to homelessness prevention. For example, if you buy a $100 gift card for Stop & Shop, your gift card is worth the full $100 – but Stop & Shop donates 5 percent ($5) to Project Prevention.

You can buy grocery gift cards at HAC’s main office at 460 West Main Street, Hyannis. For more information on other locations where they can be purchased, click the “donate” link on HAC’s website, www.HAConCapeCod.org.

To purchase other gift cards, go to www.shopwithscrip.com. The enrollment code to help DYECH and HAC is 561B698219989.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Project Prevention, Food Certs, Prevention