Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

HAC Turns Dreams of Homeownership into a Reality

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 @ 12:23 PM
Troy Beth and Julian Smith Edited-2.jpgTroy and Beth Smith with their 17-year-old son Julian. Now that they are homeowners, Beth said, "I feel like we're a part of the community. I feel like we really belong on Cape Cod." 

This past summer, Troy, Beth and Julian Smith sat outside in their Centerville backyard watching “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” playing on a movie projector. They were joined by friends and family and there was music playing, a fire pit blazing and tiki lamps burning, adding warmth to the festive gathering.

It was an idyllic setting, evidence that the Smiths have settled into this place called home. “For now, it’s our little thing. Our little moment,” Troy said of the summer movie night which, in its second year, is becoming a family tradition.

It is a moment made possible by HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC). Between the two of them, Troy and Beth took HCEC’s First-Time Homebuyer workshop three times.

The couple, who have been together for 32 years and married for 28, had briefly lived on Cape Cod in the mid-80s before moving to Boston. In 2001, they returned to the Cape with their then-two-year-old son Julian. “We loved Cape Cod and always knew we were coming back,” Troy said.

They had originally planned to rent for a year and then buy a house. “We didn’t realize it would be a 14-year odyssey,” Troy said.

The initial step towards homeownership was taking HAC’s class geared towards first-time homebuyers. “The first time we took it was great,” said Beth. “It showed us we weren’t ready… It helped us fix our credit score, plan accordingly for what might lie ahead and we started thinking realistically about savings and investments and what it means to be a homeowner.”

A little more than a year later, Beth opted to take the class once again. And Troy took the online course.

A Better Understanding
Taking the class multiple times allowed the Smiths a chance to understand what questions to ask Cheryl Kramer, HAC’s HCEC manager, as they moved forward with their dreams of homeownership. “No one tells you the exact things that are going to happen and all the steps involved until you take the class,” Beth said. “Then you meet building inspectors, insurance people and bankers. It seems overwhelming at first, but when you put the pieces together, it’s doable if you’re organized.”

After finishing the second round of classes, the Smiths

started looking for a home in Barnstable in early 2015. They eventually found a two-bedroom ranch that happened to be just one block over from the house they had been renting the past 14 years.

Thanks to the help of HAC’s Karin Bar, the couple qualified for $10,000 in down payment assistance that went towards the purchase of their home. HAC administers the funds through Barnstable County’s HOME Program.

When they finally closed on the home last year, Beth said, “we screamed and yelled and cried.”

“We had always hoped and dreamed of buying a home,” Troy said.

“But we never thought it would be a reality,” Beth said.

Today, the Smiths could not be happier and they give a lot of credit to HAC. “We knew everyone at HAC was going to help us and they did every single time we called,” said Troy.

As to what owning a home means, Troy said, “there is a certain degree of pride involved that you accomplished something. It was a difficult journey to buy a house and some people don’t make it or quit, or do it foolishly and have their home foreclosed on. But I’m grateful we listened to the advice HAC gave us. It paid off tremendously. We wake up happy every day.”

To learn more about HAC's First-Time Homebuyer Workshop, click this link. And to help families like the Smiths experience the joy of homeownership on Cape Cod and the Islands, click this link

Tags: homeownership, First-Time Homebuyer workshop, HCEC, Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program

HCEC Teaches Shelter Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 @ 01:56 PM
HCEC_Angel_House_Photo-1.jpgCheryl Kramer (front center) poses with her HCEC students from Angel House.

A funny thing happened at the end of May when HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) manager Cheryl Kramer finished up a budgeting and credit education workshop at the Angel House shelter. “They wanted me to come back and teach our Be a Smart Tenant class,” she said.

It is just one sign that the mothers at Angel House are embracing steps to move forward in a positive direction with their lives. Wanting to assist in that effort, Kramer returned and taught the tenancy class which covers everything from renter’s insurance to working with landlords to how to handle an eviction.

In the middle of June, 12 mothers who took the Be a Smart Tenant workshop were handed certificates of completion from Kramer. Afterwards, they spoke about how it benefitted them as they prepare for their ultimate goal of moving out of shelter and into permanent housing. “I feel more confident about moving on from here,” said Victoria Chase.

While HAC has long offered these types of classes to the general public, it has only recently begun to bring them into its shelters. Clients at the NOAH Shelter and Angel House, which are both in Hyannis, are now benefitting from the workshops Kramer has been teaching for years.

Over the past five years, she has taught the Be a Smart Tenant class at both The Village at Cataumet in Bourne and Carriage House in North Falmouth. Last fall, she brought a workshop focusing on budgeting and rebuilding your credit to NOAH, following that up with two additional ones earlier this year.

The curriculum for that class teaches students the components of a budget, how to write a budget, how to review one’s budget, how to fix items in one’s credit report and how to improve and sustain a credit score.

“It has been amazing,” Kramer said of teaching these workshops to the region’s most needy. “The NOAH Shelter guests are so vulnerable, yet are so open to learning, as are the Angel House women. The women at Angel House are so vested and so interested in this. It is so evident they have a desire to learn to do things differently… they are not there because they have to be there. They are there because they want to be.”

Following the Angel House graduation in May, Kramer spoke about the importance of bringing these HCEC workshops to those in shelter, noting that it helps them succeed in securing housing and work. “To know you’ve helped them do something different for their future and for their family is just a fun process,” Kramer said of the rewards she has reaped from teaching in HAC’s homeless shelters.

Click here to learn more about the financial literacy classes offered through HAC's Housing Consumer Education Center. Thanks to a grant we received from the CCYP Giving Circle of The Cape Cod Foundation, we are offering three of those classes for free, for a limited time. 

Tags: housing consumer education, HCEC, Cheryl Kramer, Angel House, NOAH Shelter

HAC Offers Free HCEC Classes

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Aug 10, 2016 @ 03:21 PM
CCYP_HCEC_1-1.jpgHAC's Cheryl Kramer with CCYP Board Member Ryan Castle. 

Housing is one of the obstacles preventing young professionals from moving to Cape Cod and staying here. The Cape Cod Young Professionals (CCYP) is trying to change that by “moving the needle” in a positive direction as its board member Ryan Castle said at the organization’s 5th Annual Community Breakfast held in June at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa.

To that end, the CCYP Giving Circle Fund of The Cape Cod Foundation presented HAC’s Cheryl Kramer with a $2,500 grant at the breakfast that will allow residents in the region to take classes offered by the agency’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) for free. Those classes are Rebuilding Your Credit, Creating a Budget and Community Resources.

“Our hope is this is going to strengthen people’s financial knowledge of their own budgets, incomes and expenses and assist them in making decisions so their financial stability is a little bit stronger,” said Kramer, who manages the HCEC for HAC.

Those interested in taking advantage of this opportunity can opt to take one class or all three, depending on space. The following is the class schedule (click on the titles of each class to download the registration form) for the remainder of the year:

People must download and fill out the registration form, returning it to Cheryl Kramer at 460 West Main Street, Hyannis, MA 02601. You can also pick up hard copies of the application at HAC’s offices at 460 West Main Street.

Tags: HCEC, CCYP, Housing on Cape Cod, housing consumer education, affordable housing, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod

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

Free Foreclosure Prevention Counseling

Posted by Laura Reckford on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Foreclosure counseling is free at Housing Assistance Corporation for anyone whose primary residence is on Cape Cod or the Islands. There are no income or mortgage limits.

HAC staffers explain mortgage options and the foreclosure process. They can then assist in preparing mortgage-modification request paperwork and submit the paperwork.

HAC can empower homeowners to speak with their lender and review the correspondence
from the lender.

HAC provides homeowners with debt-management counseling and on alternative housing options.

HAC is the only HUD-approved housing counseling agency serving Cape Cod and the Islands; and it has a contract and a close working relationship with the Attorney General’s office, plus over 15 years experience in mortgage foreclosure counseling.

When is the best time to contact HAC about counseling? If you are current with your
mortgage but are concerned that you won’t be able to keep up; or if your mortgage payment is past due.

Also contact HAC for counseling if your lender has sent a letter demanding money by a certain date or if an attorney has sent you a letter about your mortgage.

HAC is also the place to turn if you had little or no success trying to work things out with your lender.

Beware of foreclosure rescue scams. Avoid anyone asking for a fee in advance. Remember:
Friends don’t let friends pay for foreclosure prevention counseling. Refer family and friends to HAC.

To set up an appointment with a HAC counselor, call Liz Belcher at 508-771-5400 at extension
210 or by e-mail at lbelcher@haconcapecod.org.

Tags: HAC Workshops, HCEC, Prevention, housing assistance corporation, Foreclosure

Vineyard Man Avoids Foreclosure, With HAC’s Help

Posted by Laura Reckford on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 @ 11:51 AM


Of the many ways that Housing Assistance Corporation helps people, foreclosure prevention counseling is the one that quietly saves families from potential disaster.

HAC Foreclosure Prevention Counselor Joan Maney recently received a letter from a client, Angelo L. Dimeglio, that eloquently expressed just how important this service can be.

Mr. DiMeglio, a self-employed carpenter who lives in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, was in danger of losing his home, which he built mostly with his own hands 25 years ago.

Mr. DiMeglio’s home, Cape Cod-style with a farmer’s porch, means a lot to him. He first came to the island in 1969 when he was 12 years old. His parents loaded him and his four siblings into their Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon and they visited Cape Cod and also Martha’s Vineyard. “I absolutely fell in love with the place,” he said of the island.

He moved to the island in 1978 and was eventually able to buy a lot and build a house.

With the recession, things slowed down for everyone, including him. “When everything dropped for everyone,” Mr. DiMeglio said, he fell behind on his mortgage, “due to simple lack of work.”

He had tried to get in touch with the bank, but was unable to secure a modified loan.

“They declined me because I did not have the information filled out properly,” he wrote in a letter to HAC. “The bank was moving forward with foreclosure proceedings on my house.”

An advertisement for an auction of the house had run in the paper, and Mr. DiMeglio thought all was lost.

“To me, it felt like a life or death situation, to be honest with you,” he said of the threat of foreclosure.

Mr. DiMeglio said a friend of his told him about HAC’s foreclosure prevention services and told him to call Ms. Maney “immediately.”

He took that advice.

From his first phone call to HAC, he noted the agency’s appreciation of the urgency of the situation. He quickly received a packet of important information and an appointment.

Mr. DiMeglio credits Ms. Maney’s “utmost knowledge” in accomplishing something that he had tried to do several times himself without success.

Once the bank received the loan modification paperwork, the bank’s customer assistant specialist was in touch with Mr. DiMeglio. Not long after, the bank representative informed Mr. DiMeglio the good news that his new loan was approved by the review board.

“I am sure that without Joan Maney and the HAC, I could not have accomplished this on my own,” he wrote.

Tags: HCEC, housing assistance corporation, Foreclosure

Upcoming HAC Workshops

Posted by Julie Wake on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

All classes are held in Conference Room A at Housing Assistance Corporation, 460 West Main St., Hyannis.

Rebuilding Your Credit – $17, includes tri-merged credit report. One session, meets 9 a.m.-noon April 1.

Creating a Budget – Free. One session, meets 9 a.m.-noon April 8.
Community Resources – Learn how to live more economically. Free. One session, meets 9 a.m.-noon April 22.

Homebuyer Education – For first-time homebuyers. $75. Four sessions, meets 6-9 p.m. May 7, 14, 21 and 28.

Home Forever – Money-saving advice for homeowners. $25. Three sessions, meets 6-9 p.m. June 11, 13 and 18.

For information on all courses, contact Cheryl Kramer at 508-771-5400, ext. 287, or ckramer@HAConCapeCod.org. For a schedule of 2013 courses and links to workshop applications, visit www.HAConCapeCod.org/workshops.htm.

Tags: HCEC, Homebuyer Education, Creating a budget, Rebuilding your credit

Upcoming HAC Workshops

Posted by Julie Wake on Mon, Feb 04, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

All classes are held in Conference Room A at Housing Assistance Corporation, 460 West Main St., Hyannis.

Completing Housing Applications –Free. One session, meets 6-9 p.m. Jan. 14.
Be a Smart Tenant – Free. One session, meets 6-9 p.m. Jan. 28.

Home Forever – Money-saving advice for homeowners. $25. Three sessions, meets 6-9 p.m. Feb. 5, 7 and 12.

Rebuilding Your Credit – $17, includes tri-merged credit report. One session, meets 6-9 p.m. Feb. 11.

Homebuyer Education – For first-time homebuyers. $75. Four sessions, meets 6-9 p.m. March 4, 11, 18 and 25.

Opening the Door – Deciding whether to rent or buy. Free. One session, meets 6-9 p.m. March 5.

Creating a Budget – Free. One session, meets 9 a.m.-noon April 8.

Community Resources – Learn how to live more economically. Free. One session, meets 9 a.m.-noon April 22.

For information on all courses, contact Cheryl Kramer at 508-771-5400, ext. 287, or ckramer@HAConCapeCod.org. Click here for a schedule of 2013 courses.

Tags: HAC Workshops, HCEC, Homebuyer Education, housing assistance corporation, Creating a budget, Completing a Housing Application