Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

HAC Welcomes New Director of Education and Engagement

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 @ 05:51 PM



In April, HAC welcomed Cheryl Codair to the agency, tapping her expertise to expand its financial literacy classes.

Codair was hired as HAC’s new director of education and engagement. She is responsible for managing the workshops offered through HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) which includes Be a Successful Tenant; Community Resources; First-Time Homebuyer Education; HomeSafe Post Purchase Series; Housing Search; Money Matters; and Rebuilding Your Credit.

“I am delighted to be a part of HAC’s professional family,” said Codair, who lives in Orleans with her two daughters. “I wanted to work on a team with strong leadership and to serve our community in a meaningful way.”

She is particularly drawn to HAC’s housing-focused mission. “I do believe that living where you’re working builds a strong, vibrant community,” she said. “And it begins with affordable, year-round housing.”

Codair earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Vermont. She comes to HAC with extensive experience in a variety of fields including health care, real estate, software, and education. Most recently, she served as the program director for the Cape Cod Institute.

Anne Van Vleck, HAC’s Chief Development Officer, said Codair has a unique skillset that will serve her well in this position. “We weren’t sure we could find somebody who could do all aspects of the job, from fundraising to sponsorships to relationship building with educational partners to program design and curriculum development,” she said. “Cheryl brought all of those skills to the table. She has a background in all of those areas.”

Among her duties, Codair will be responsible for overseeing an effort to make HAC’s educational offerings more accessible by holding them in other sections of Cape Cod and the Islands. Traditionally, those classes have been held at HAC’s Hyannis office at 460 West Main Street and at its family shelters.

Codair expressed excitement with her new role, especially as it will give clients attending HAC workshops the tools and resources to achieve housing stability and move towards self-sufficiency. “The core education piece is important to be able to set up your financial goals. Maybe it is just to get a better apartment or maybe it is to achieve homeownership,” she said. “It is having that stable place that a family needs to experience that next level of joy.”

To register or to learn more about HAC's financial literacy classes, click this link. To contact Cheryl, email her at ccodair@haconcapecod.org or call her at 508-771-5400, ext. 267.

Tags: HCEC, Homebuyer Education, education, housing consumer education, First-Time Homebuyer workshop, financial literacy, Anne Van Vleck, first-time homebuyer, Cheryl Codair, self-sufficiency

Preparing Residents to Become Homeowners on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Nov 02, 2017 @ 03:12 PM
Homebuyer17-3.jpgHAC Housing Counselor Karin Bar teaches a First-Time Homebuyer workshop in September. The classes are offered in four-day or two-day sessions as well as online for those unable to attend in person. 

On the last Thursday of September, 36 people sat quietly in the conference room at HAC’s office at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis.

Individually, they may have been different, but they all shared at least two similarities – they each rent a home or an apartment on Cape Cod. And they all hope to one day become a homeowner.

On this night, HAC Housing Counselor Karin Bar provided guidance on how they can achieve those dreams as part of the agency’s First-Time Homebuyer Workshop. HAC offers the class eight times a year; in 2016, 282 people, representing 196 households, took the class to prepare them for the home buying process.

“They are always full and in demand,” said Bar, who has been teaching the classes for the past three years.

There are a number of reasons people take the classes. Certain loan programs, including those offered by MassHousing, Fannie Mae, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and the United States Department of Agriculture, require it.

“To get down payment assistance, it’s a requirement,” Bar added.

It’s also necessary for anyone who wants to purchase an affordable or deed-restricted home.

Homebuyer17-1.jpgJohn Hughes (left) of Falmouth and Ernesto Garcia of South Yarmouth review materials during a First-Time Homebuyer workshop held in October. 

Topics covered during the workshop include budgeting, credit, and loan programs available to homebuyers. Clients also have access to local experts, from Realtors to real estate attorneys to insurance agents to home inspectors, who walk students through each step one must take to fulfill the American dream.

“I think this program is a great tool for when you’re ready to buy a home,” said John Hughes of Falmouth, a financial specialist with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Gaming Commission. He had originally taken the course in 2015 and was back for the course in September so he could maintain his certification to keep him eligible for loan programs aimed at first-time homebuyers.

As to why he wants to become a homeowner, he said, “for stability.”

Ernesto Garcia, who rents an apartment with his fiancée in South Yarmouth, is less sure about purchasing a home, but the classes helped clarify the process. “If you have any doubts, what they teach makes it clearer,” he said.

Wanting to become a homeowner is one of the biggest decisions people will make in their lives. HAC’s First-Time Homebuyer workshop is aimed at not only taking the stress out of the equation, but making it enjoyable for participants.

“This is like the maternity ward… This is fun. People are excited and thinking about buying a house,” Bar said of the workshop. “At the end of every class series, we have people fill out an evaluation form and there has never been anyone who says it wasn’t worth it.”

Register for HAC's First-Time Homebuyer Workshop

Those interested in signing up for a First-Time Homebuyer class can do so by clicking this link. HAC also offers a number of other financial literacy classes including Rebuilding Your Credit; Budgeting; Be a Successful Tenant; Community Resources; and Home Forever. Click here to see a full class listing offered by HAC.  

Tags: HCEC, Homebuyer Education, homeownership, Karin Bar, housing consumer education, First-Time Homebuyer workshop, affordable homeownership, first-time homebuyer

Praise for HAC's First-Time Homebuyer Class

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 @ 10:16 AM

DSC 5799 resized 600

Preparation often sets the stage for success. And that is exactly where Brewster’s Derick Duarte found himself after taking HAC’s first-time homebuyer class in May. 

“I honestly had no idea the basic steps involved with buying a home,” Derick Duarte admitted.

That changed thanks to the assistance of Cheryl Kramer, the manager for HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center, who led the four-week class Duarte took with his fellow Cape Codders earlier this year.

The class, Kramer said, “helps people think about what they are doing and who they want to work with in the process of purchasing their home.”

For Duarte it set the foundation for what to expect when purchasing a home on Cape Cod. “I knew what was coming, what I had to do and when I had to do it,” he said. “It was so much less stressful than if I hadn’t taken the class and didn’t know what was going on.”

He credited the sessions for giving him insight into choosing a real estate agent; the amount he would need for a down payment on a home; working with a mortgage broker; and the negotiation process for making an offer on a home.

Duarte learned about the class from a friend and elected to take it because “I was at a point in my life where I wanted to buy a home.”

A 41-year-old technician for Comcast and father of two – Cheyenne, 14, and Tyler, 12 – Duarte had been living and renting in Brewster for the past decade. “My rent now has gotten to the point where I’m paying someone else’s mortgage,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense if I keep paying rent. I’d rather own something I can pass on to my kids and we can customize and make our own.”

In August, Duarte was at the doorstep of making that dream a reality. He had an offer accepted on a home in Brewster which he finally moved into last month. “I’m thrilled,” he said. “I never thought in a million years I’d be able to afford a home in Brewster, but with the help of your homebuyer course and my agent it has been a painless process.

“I’ve talked to friends who have bought homes and their stress levels were through the roof because they didn’t know what to expect or what was going on,” he continued. “Every step of the process went as expected and I knew what was coming next.”

Click this link for information on HAC’s first-time homebuyer classes for next year.

Tags: Homebuyer Education, home ownership, HAC, Derick Duarte, Cheryl Kramer

Dream of Owning a Home is Realized

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Jul 08, 2014 @ 12:20 PM
describe the imageMichael Hesse and his wife Shannon and their two daughters, Riley (left) and Dakota, celebrate in front of their newly purchased home in Harwich.

“I’ve always wanted to own a place, but I never thought it could happen.”

For much of his adult life that statement exemplified Michael Hesse’s attitude toward home ownership – he would never have a place he could call his own.

But that changed last year when his landlord informed Hesse he would be selling the two-family home he and his family had been living in and renting the past four years.

Up until that point Michael, his wife Shannon and their two daughters, Dakota, 10, and Riley, 5 had been the ideal tenants. They took care of the yard and maintained the house, all in exchange for a lower rent.

So when the owner put the home on the market he gave Hesse the first shot, at below market price, because “we’d been taking care of the place so well,” he said. “We’d mow the grass. Really, whatever was asked of me I’d go above and beyond.”

Already working one job at Oysters Harbor Marine in Osterville, Hesse added another to his plate – as a waiter at Stewart’s in Eastham – last year in hopes of being able to purchase the house.

Still it was not enough. “My credit wasn’t good enough,” he admitted.

That is when he discovered HAC and tapped into the Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program which it administers for the Cape Cod Commission and the Barnstable County HOME Consortium. The program provides zero interest loans of anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 for first-time homebuyers on Cape Cod with funds coming from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The couple qualified for financial assistance, taking the requisite classes necessary to secure a $14,000 loan from the county. “I found it helpful,” Hesse said of the program. “I was looking for ways to fix my credit and what we needed to do to get a down payment.”

So this past November, the Hesse’s turned their rental into a home, fulfilling a dream they did not think was possible. “I never thought I would be able to buy a place of my own, never in my wildest dreams” the 35-year-old Hesse said.

The couple credited much of their success to Brenda Rocklage, the program administrator for HAC. She deflected such praise, calling the Hesse’s “a great role model for good tenancy… We just like to hear about great outcomes for buyers who work on keeping their credit and savings positive so they can qualify for good mortgage rates and assistance from the program if they are eligible.” 

Still, Hesse said, without HAC’s assistance he and his wife would never have been able to purchase what they consider a perfect home - a 2,800-square foot house situated in the middle of Harwich’s lakes with access to the town’s bike path. “It just makes me feel, I can’t even describe it,” he said. “I feel like I finally accomplished something in my life. It is wonderful

“We found this place, loved the area and loved this house,” he continued. “We just wanted to stay here. I can see it being an intergenerational home and being passed on to our grandkids. And if our kids moved away it’d be great to have them come back and visit. What is better than that?” 

Tags: housing, Homebuyer Education, HAC, Michael hesse

A Home For Hilda: HAC Client Buys Dream House

Posted by Laura Reckford on Sat, Nov 23, 2013 @ 06:00 AM

Hilda's family



A fire meant a fresh start for Hilda Haye and her family.

Last summer Hilda was among the 16 tenants left homeless after a fire in a neighbor’s unit caused damage at her apartment complex at 800 Bearse’s Way in Hyannis.

Hilda, 44, is from Jamaica and moved to Cape Cod in 2001 as a summer worker. But after more than 10 years on Cape Cod, this feels like home, she said. She found year-round work at Cape Cod Hospital as a certified nursing assistant and then realized there were opportunities for advancement if she became certified as a diagnostic tech.

 Now she works at Cape Cod Hospital as a diagnostic tech, a career she trained for with evening classes at Upper Cape Technical High School.

She became a US citizen one year ago and her youngest daughter, who is a senior at Barnstable High School, is also a US citizen, as is her 17-month old grandson, who was born at Cape Cod Hospital. Her older daughter works in the housekeeping department at the hospital.

After the fire at their apartment complex, it took months for the building to be declared suitable for occupants. First Red Cross stepped in. Then tenants, like Hilda and her family, came to Housing Assistance Corporation for help finding apartments. Displaced tenants were given a grocery gift card and one-week stay at a motel. But when those ran out, Hilda and her family were still without housing.

The family relocated several times over those months. “We bounced around with friends. I didn’t have the money for a hotel,” Hilda said. Some days she even stayed in the condemned apartment building while the rest of her family stayed with friends.

After three months with electricity still not restored at 800 Bearses Way, she decided to try to find somewhere else to live. That is where Housing Assistance Corporation’s non-profit real estate division, Cape Community Real Estate, came into the picture.

Hilda was referred to Housing Assistance Corporation for help finding a rental apartment but she soon learned that she could afford to buy a house. With the help of HAC’s Gael Kelleher, that is what she did.

“I didn’t know I had good credit. Financially, I thought it was scary because I didn’t have much money,” Hilda said.

She took HAC’s first time homebuyers class and was also eligible to use the county’s first-time homebuyer down payment assistance program which is administered by HAC.

Hilda has lots of praise for Gael’s work in finding her a home in Centerville and then helping her to close on the property. “She was excellent. She’s the best. She helped me with a lot of the details,” the happy first-time homebuyer said.

They had looked at eight to 10 houses over about two months when Gael called one day, saying, “I think I found the perfect house for you.” Hilda went to look and knew right away. “This is it,” she said.

Hilda said she finds the house to be roomy enough for her family and she loves the location in Centerville, which is convenient to her job at Cape Cod Hospital and her daughter’s school. “It’s awesome, very quiet and laid back,” she said.

Gael, who is a full-service Realtor, was even there for the home inspection.

Hilda closed on the house in June. “It was exciting,” Hilda said. Her next plan is to take HAC’s Home Forever class in September.

Tags: Homebuyer Education, HAC, Cape Community Real Estate

Biggest Class Ever of First-Time Homebuyers

Posted by Laura Reckford on Fri, Nov 22, 2013 @ 10:30 PM

describe the image


Housing Assistance Corporation’s most popular class in its Education Center is the First Time Home Buyer Class, but this fall, the class reached a milestone.

The First Time Home Buyer session ending September 30, 2013 graduated 50 people representing 33 households of potential new homebuyers to Cape Cod, according to Cheryl Kramer, HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center Manager.

“It’s the first time since I arrived [at HAC] that we graduated a full class of 50 people,” said Cheryl, who has been with the agency for six years.

HAC has offered the First Time Homebuyer workshop series for more than 16 years, Cheryl said.

Students in the last session were a diverse group. They came from the following towns and villages: East Falmouth, Mashpee, East Sandwich, Osterville, Centerville, Hyannis, West Hyannisport, Barnstable, West Yarmouth, South Yarmouth, South Dennis, Dennis Port, Harwich, Harwichport, Chatham, North Chatham, Brewster, Orleans and Eastham.

Their incomes ranged from $20,000 to more than $100,000 per year.

They heard about the class from friends, Realtors, banking staff, Habitat for Humanity, a local housing authority, an online search, HAC’s website or from taking other classes at HAC.

Cheryl said all four evenings of the class offer different topics and speakers, resulting in active engagement from students.

There are many benefits to taking the First Time Homebuyer Class, starting with knowledge about the home-buying process, including who is involved in the process and what role they play. The class is required to qualify for some of the loans available in Massachusetts for first time homebuyers. It is also required for people who want to apply for the Down Payment and Closing Cost Program.

People who take the First Time Homebuyer class are taught how to purchase a home and avoid foreclosure, Cheryl said.


Tags: Homebuyer Education, housing assistance corporation

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