Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Preventing Homelessness on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 @ 03:15 PM

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When it comes to money, $500 may not seem like much. But at HAC, it often is the difference between keeping a client in their home and them becoming homeless.

Over the past 25 years, HAC’s Project Prevention has worked to prevent homelessness through one-time emergency funds that go to pay utility bills, rent or mortgage arrears for individuals and families on Cape Cod and the Islands.

“A relatively small amount of money can resolve a really big problem,” said HAC’s Information and Client Services Manager Liz Belcher who assists individuals at risk of becoming homeless. Monica Mitchell, HAC’s family services supervisor, assists families at risk of becoming homeless.

Among Belcher’s recent clients is a woman in her 30s who holds a Section 8 voucher and was unable to work due to an injury. While she filed for unemployment and an adjustment on her rent, Belcher said, “both of those take time” so HAC used $439 from Project Prevention funds to cover her rent.

A frequent request, Belcher said, is individuals seeking money to prevent their utilities from being shut off. “Usually anywhere between $150 and $450 we give as a down payment on someone’s utility arrearage,” said Belcher. “And then we get them on a payment plan. It is really a leg up.”

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On average, Belcher said, she sees at least 15 clients a week who need funds to keep them in their homes or apartments.

That funding comes from two sources – the Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) and the Barnstable Interfaith Council (BIC).

DYECH’s funding supports HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts for families while BIC’s funding goes towards individuals in danger of becoming homeless. Both raise funds for HAC through the sale of gift certificates to local supermarkets and restaurants that are sold at face value to the public. Because the faith-based groups purchase those certificates in bulk, they receive a discount, allowing five percent of each purchase to go towards HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts.

Since it was formed in 1993, DYECH has raised over $1.5 million to help keep local families in their homes and apartments and off the streets. BIC has raised nearly $400,000 for individuals.

For roughly 20 years, Deacon David Akin of St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth, has been involved in DYECH’s efforts to support HAC’s Project Prevention. “It is good for the soul,” he said of his involvement. “You’re doing something good for another human being or family.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

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If you shop for food at a supermarket, then you can help prevent homelessness on Cape Cod. It’s that simple.

HAC sells gift certificates at face value to the following stores: Lambert’s; Shaw’s/Star Market; Stop & Shop; Ring Brothers; Peterson’s Market & Fancy’s in Osterville; Roche Brothers; Cape Cod Natural Foods; and Whole Foods as well as Country Garden; CVS; 99 Restaurant & Pub; and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Because the Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) and the Barnstable Interfaith Council (BIC) purchase those certificates in bulk, they receive a 5 percent discount on them. For each certificate sold, that 5 percent goes to HAC to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless.

Deacon David Akin of St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth said, “it should be a no-brainer” for people to participate in the program. “We are supposed to support our neighbors.”

Those interested in purchasing gift certificates to support HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts can do so at our office at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis.

Along with selling gift certificates, DYECH organizes free concerts twice a year where they collect donations on behalf of Project Prevention. It also works with local restaurants who donate a portion of their patrons’ checks to Project Prevention several times a year. Visit www.dyech.org for details on upcoming fundraisers.

 

Tags: homeless prevention, homelessness prevention, grocery cards for prevention, Gift Cards for prevention, Project Prevention, homelessness, DYECH, Liz Belcher, BIC, Barnstable Interfaith Council, David Akin

DYECH Presents Its Largest Gift to Project Prevention

Posted by Julie Wake on Sun, Mar 17, 2013 @ 09:00 AM
Since 1993, the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) mission has been clear: to raise money for HAC’s homelessness prevention programs. The mission, by all accounts, has been a resounding success. More than $1.3 million has been raised, and hundreds of Cape Cod families have been helped.
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Last month, David Akin, a deacon at St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth and past president of DYECH, presented a check for $25,000 to HAC CEO Rick Presbrey. The gift came from an anonymous donor and is the largest single donation ever to DYECH.

The donor gave the gift in honor of his mother, an 80-year-old resident of Yarmouth who rides her bike each day to St. Pius. When he wanted to pay tribute to her, he asked Akin to suggest a worthy fund.

In February, DYECH also presented Project Prevention with a donation of $8,500, funds raised through a holiday concert and the sale of grocery and retail gift cards.

“DYECH continues to be the greatest support for family homelessness prevention that we could ever hope for,” said Allison Alewine, HAC vice president of operations.

HAC’s Project Prevention stops homelessness in its tracks by preventing it from happening in the first place, providing short-term financial assistance to people at risk of homelessness. 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).

An update on BIC clients

Just as DYECH supports HAC’s efforts for family homelessness prevention, the Barnstable Interfaith Council (BIC) raises funds for individual homelessness prevention. In a recent letter to BIC supporters, Greg Bar, HAC’s individual housing search specialist, described some of his clients who had been helped recently with Project Prevention funding.

• Brett and Arlene paid a past due electric bill so they can move forward after job loss and illness.
• Cindy is 60 years old and lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her 18-year-old son. She works, but got behind on rent because her hours were temporarily reduced.
• Dennis and Emily are two former NOAH Shelter clients who struggled to get a stable life and have succeeded. They wanted to move into a safer apartment and needed some financial help.
• Irene is a mason in her 30s. Work got light the past couple of months and she got behind on rent. BIC funds helped her stay in her apartment.

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 $25 gift card for the Gap, your gift card is worth the full $25 – but the Gap donates 14 percent ($3.50) to Project Prevention.

To purchase grocery or retail gift cards, go to www.HAConCapeCod.org/donate and click on “grocery cards for prevention” or “gift cards for prevention.”

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, Gift Cards for prevention, grocery cards for prevention