Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Gift Cards Help Prevent Homelessness

Posted by HAC Staff on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 @ 04:22 PM

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Do you plan on buying a gift card for a loved one this holiday season? If so, you can help prevent homelessness on Cape Cod by purchasing them through the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH).

Every year, DYECH sells gift cards to over 100 stores, restaurants and movie theaters – Best Buy, Amazon, Target, Starbucks and more – that raise funds for HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts.

To purchase gift cards this holiday season visit www.shopwithscrip.com. The enrollment code to support DYECH and HAC is 561B698219989.

Cards can be picked up at Yarmouth Appliance Clinic at 61 White’s Path in Yarmouth one week after you place your order. Make sure to place your order early so you have the cards in time for the holidays!

If you have questions about the program, please email DYECH at dyech@comcast.net

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, Prevention, homelessness prevention, Cape Cod Caring Cards, Gift Cards for prevention

Dine at the 99 Restaurant

Posted by HAC Staff on Wed, Oct 25, 2017 @ 03:28 PM

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Several times a year the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH) offers an easy opportunity to keep families in their homes and off the streets.

They will do so once again tomorrow (October 26), when they invite you, your family and friends to dine at the 99 Restaurant at 14 Berry Avenue in West Yarmouth. From 11 am to 8 pm, the restaurant will be donating 15 percent of your guest check to prevent families on Cape Cod from becoming homeless.

In order to participate, you must present your server with this flier

You can make your impact go even further by paying for your meal with a gift certificate to 99 Restaurant purchased through the Cape Cod Caring Cards program. By doing so, DYECH will earn an additional 13% which will go towards our homelessness prevention efforts.

There is no extra cost to purchase a 99 Restaurant gift certificate through the Caring Cards program which helps ensure families and individuals, who are struggling with their bills, can remain in their homes. To learn more about the program or to purchase a gift certificate contact HAC’s Margaret Benaka at mbenaka@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 272.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, DYECH, homelessness prevention, 99 Restaurant

Helping Tackle the Vineyard's Housing Issues

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Oct 23, 2017 @ 12:33 PM

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Having been born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, Rebecca (Townes) Jamieson knows there is a lot to love about the Island.

But HAC’s new Homeless Case Manager on Martha’s Vineyard also understands it’s a community that is not devoid of its problems. “There definitely are struggles and issues we have here,” she said. “One of the biggest issues right now we face is homelessness.”

Since the beginning of September, Jamieson has been helping HAC tackle that problem on the Island on a part-time basis, Monday through Wednesday, working out of the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority on State Road in Vineyard Haven. Her position is currently being funded through a grant from the Cape and Islands United Way.

In her role, she is responsible for providing intensive case management to families and individuals experiencing housing instability on Martha’s Vineyard. These are people who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness.

HAC Director of Family and Individual Services Cassi Danzl said that until January 2016, when the state earmarked money to cover the costs of a similar position, there was “no other existing case management services for individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness” on the Vineyard. That is why the role, she said, is so critical to this community.

And that is why Jamieson applied for the position. “I want to help the people here who are struggling,” she said. “I think that this is a place where there is so much wealth and amongst all of that wealth, we have a significant population who has little, if anything.”

Prior to coming to HAC, Jamieson served as a case manager with Arbour Counseling Services in West Yarmouth. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ashford University and a master’s of science in professional counseling from Grand Canyon University.

“She brings a really great skillset to this position,” said Danzl, adding that having lived on the Island most of her life, “she has a really clear understanding of the struggles and stressors that come with being a resident of the Vineyard.”

While still new to HAC, her hiring represents a whirlwind few months for Rebecca who was married in August to Jonathan Jamieson. She has two adult children, Kayla, 24, and Dorian, 20, as well as a six-year-old stepdaughter Laiah.

Having the opportunity to live, work and raise her own family on the Vineyard is rewarding for Jamieson. “I love the small community. I love its beauty. I love that we have wonderful weather in the summertime and snow in the winter,” she said. “Most of my family is here so it is very comforting, and a very familiar and lovely place.”

House Needed on Martha’s Vineyard

HAC is currently seeking a year-round home to rent or buy on Martha’s Vineyard that would house 5 chronically homeless adults. The home should have between 4 and 5 bedrooms and can consist of one or two structures on the same property.

Rent will be paid utilizing a grant HAC received earlier this year from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Those with a potential home should contact HAC’s Cassi Danzl at cdanzl@haconcapecod.org or 508-771-5400, ext. 253.

Tags: homelessness, Martha's Vineyard, homelessness prevention, affordable housing, Cape and Islands United Way, Rebecca Jamieson

Wells Fargo Grant Helps Prevent Homelessness

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 @ 04:23 PM
Wells Fargo Photo-1.jpgWells Fargo’s Kristine Sullivan (from left), Briana Curran and Robert Sullivan present HAC’s Laura Reckford (middle) and Cassi Danzl with a $5,000 grant. 

It can take as little as a few hundred dollars to keep HAC clients, who may be struggling to get by, in their homes and off the streets. And thanks to the generosity of Wells Fargo which recently awarded HAC a $5,000 grant, a number of families on Cape Cod and the Islands will be able to avoid the trauma and indignity of homelessness.

“This money will allow us to assist a larger number of families this year with avoiding a housing crisis,” said Cassi Danzl, HAC’s director of family and individual services. “Many families on the Cape are one crisis or missed paycheck away from homelessness. This money will help bridge that gap and allow those families to stay in stable housing.”

Danzl was joined by HAC’s Director of Community Relations Laura Reckford in accepting a $5,000 check from Wells Fargo to support the agency’s Project Prevention program. Robert Sullivan, first vice president of investments at Wells Fargo Advisors, Kristine Sullivan, a senior registered client associate at Wells Fargo Advisors, and Briana Curran, vice president of communications and community relations for Wells Fargo, delivered the check to the pair at HAC’s West Main Street office in Hyannis.

HAC was one of 18 nonprofits in Massachusetts that were awarded nearly $250,000 in grants from Wells Fargo and the only one on Cape Cod.

“HAC provides critical services to families on Cape Cod and the Islands at risk of homelessness so they can avoid entry or re-entry into the shelter system, and I’m so proud Wells Fargo can support this important work,” said Robert Sullivan.

Tags: homelessness prevention, Laura Reckford, Cassi Danzl, Wells Fargo, grant

HAC Supports Falmouth's Most Vulnerable Residents

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 @ 03:58 PM
DSC_0240.jpgHAC 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.”

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, homelessness prevention, Falmouth, Deborah McDonnell, Falmouth Human Services

DYECH Celebrates Fundraising Milestone

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Apr 07, 2017 @ 11:26 AM
DYECH Edited.jpgAt its meeting last month, DYECH presented HAC's Cassi Danzl with an $8,000 check which pushed its fundraising total to $1.5 million since the group's inception. The money has been used to prevent families on Cape Cod from becoming homeless.

In the grand scheme of things, $8,000 may seem like a relatively small amount of money, but in the beginning of March, it represented a major milestone for a group of residents committed to helping their neighbors in need.

When that donation was given to Cassi Danzl, HAC’s director of Family and Individual Services, it pushed the group, better known as the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH), over $1.5 million raised since it was formed in 1993.

HAC founder Rick Presbrey said the genesis of DYECH was “to prevent people from entering shelters and motels and keep them in housing,” an effort spearheaded by the late Bob Murray in conjunction with parishioners and staff at Christian churches in Dennis and Yarmouth that had reached out to HAC asking how they could support the agency.

And so DYECH was born. Golf tournaments, ham and bean dinners, chicken pot pie suppers and community concerts are just a few of the ways they have raised money to prevent homelessness on Cape Cod and the Islands over the past 24 years.

DYECH has also been able to raise funds from the bulk purchase of gift certificates to participating stores such as Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods and CVS. It then sells those gift certificates at face value to those in the community. For every dollar spent, DYECH receives five percent that goes directly to HAC’s homelessness prevention efforts for families.

Debbie McDevitt-Hayes of Yarmouth, who has been involved with DYECH since the beginning, recalled that the late Art Kimber, a member of the clergy at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Yarmouth, and Deacon David Akin of St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth, were instrumental in the launch of DYECH and bringing neighboring churches into the fold.

DYECH’s Early Days
“Those early days were exciting days for sure,” she said, noting that it was less about the money raised and more about the number of families they were able to help. “HAC was good at keeping us posted as to putting a personal face on what was happening. Sometimes you’d meet some of the clients that you helped which was really exciting.”

As to DYECH reaching this fundraising milestone last month, she said, “I’m sure if we put the faces on that $1.5 million it would have a huge impact.”

Akin said the reason for the continued dedication to DYECH is simple: there are people in need. “They say that for 60 or more percent of Cape Codders, if one or two paychecks don’t come, the party is over,” he said. “There is a real hand-to-mouth economy for the have nots.”

“I think we all have to help each other,” said Yarmouthport’s Barbara Lussier, who manages the gift certificate program for DYECH. “Some of us are more fortunate than others, but I think it’s important for us to give back.”

While all agreed there is still more to do, current DYECH President Steve Sozanski was proud of all the group has accomplished. “It’s mind-boggling to think we’ve raised that much money organizing meals and concerts three or four times a year and buying and selling gift cards in bulk,” he said.

Presbrey agreed, calling DYECH’s work “amazing, actually. For them to do it all these years is impressive and also the energy with which they do it. They’ve kept up the program and prevented people from being homeless and keeping them in their current housing. It’s been a huge thing, really.”

To learn more about ways you can help prevent homelessness simply by purchasing a gift card to a local supermarket, store or restaurant, click this link.

You can also purchase gift cards at HAC's office at 460 West Main Street in Hyannis. Contact Margaret Benaka at 508-771-5400, ext. 272, or at mbenaka@haconcapecod.org for more information. 

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, homelessness prevention, Steve Sozanski, homeless prevention, Rick Presbrey, Gift Cards for prevention, David Akin, St. Pius X School, Cassi Danzl, Barbara Lussier, Debbie McDevitt-Hayes

Post-NOAH: Family Shelters, Outreach, Affordable Housing, All Priorities at HAC

Posted by Rick Presbrey on Sat, Dec 24, 2016 @ 09:45 AM

rick_at_big_fix.jpgMany people were surprised a few months ago when the Boston Globe came out with a comprehensive nationwide study of the causes of homelessness. Turns out, lack of affordable housing is a bigger factor than poverty when it comes to homelessness. That’s why Hawaii has more homeless people per capita than Mississippi.

Those findings make sense when you apply them to Cape Cod where, in recent years, we have seen an increasing population of homeless families, as the price of housing continues to rise.

For more than 25 years we have run four emergency shelters for homeless families on the Cape. They don’t get the same attention that our NOAH shelter did, perhaps because most people do not know they exist.

One of the shelters is behind a white picket fence on a main road in Hyannis. Another is a former motel in Bourne and a third is in a grand shingle-style historic home in Falmouth. The fourth, our Scattered Site program, consists of apartments for families in four buildings in Hyannis and Yarmouth.

Although we have turned over our NOAH shelter in Hyannis to Catholic Social Services, we still work with the homeless in our family shelters, which last year housed 174 families, including 195 kids.

We also are continuing to work with homeless individuals through our Outreach Program in which our workers go into the woods and other gathering places to try to bring homeless individuals to services and to get them situated in permanent housing. We also work with chronically homeless individuals through our case managers, who work with recently housed individuals to ensure they stay housed and don’t end up back on the street.

Preventing Homelessness on Cape Cod

Preventing homelessness is also the focus of our Project Prevention program for individuals and families. When there is a crisis such as a major car repair, health emergency, job layoff or other unforeseen event, we step in to help out financially by paying rent, a mortgage payment, a utility bill or other expenses to make sure that individual or family does not lose their home. It turns out that type of assistance also saves taxpayer dollars, because the cost to shelter people is much more expensive than the cost to keep people in their homes.

What is the best way to deal with homelessness—putting individuals and families in a shelter or finding a more permanent solution? Of course, one is short term and one is long term, but we try our best to focus on both. When all else fails, shelter is the solution and then we work to address the individual’s or family’s problems and get them into a good housing situation.

While we will always help homeless individuals and families on Cape Cod with emergency needs, we are also stepping up our efforts to create more affordable housing, because getting people into long-term housing is the ultimate goal. To accomplish that, it is sometimes necessary for families to move into the safe haven of a shelter while they participate in programming to help them get back into permanent housing and to find ways to secure an adequate income and become more self-sufficient. 

Help End Homelessness

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, homelessness, homelessness prevention, HAC, Rick Presbrey, NOAH Shelter

Taking Steps to Prevent Homelessness on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jun 05, 2015 @ 02:21 PM

Dining for a Cause (June 2015) resized 600

Homelessness is a serious issue, but finding ways to combat it can be enjoyable.

That’s exactly DYECH’s (Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Homeless) approach to the issue on Cape Cod. Over the next two months, the organization will be holding fundraisers for HAC’s Project Prevention program that keeps people off the streets and in their homes. We are confident you’ll find these events will be pleasing to your stomach and pleasing to your ears while ultimately filling your heart with the satisfaction that you helped your neighbors in need.

It starts on Thursday, June 11, from 11 am to 8 pm, when the 99 Restaurant in West Yarmouth will donate 15 percent of your total bill to DYECH. Simply print out the voucher about and present it your server that night. 

On Tuesday, June 30, the Cape Cod Conservatory Jazz Band will be playing a free concert at the St. Pius X Life Center on Barbara Street in South Yarmouth, at 7:30 pm.  And on Sunday, July 5 at 2:30 pm, you can continue with the holiday spirit by attending a free patriotic concert at the St. Pius X Church.

There will be a free will offering at both concerts to raise funds for HAC’s homelessness prevention programs.  

Tags: DYECH, Project Prevention, homelessness prevention, HAC, housing assistance corporation, 99 Restaurant, Cape Cod Conservatory Band