Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

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, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Housing on Cape Cod, affordable housing, CCYP, housing consumer education

Annual Meeting Celebrates Those Making a Difference

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, May 16, 2016 @ 12:47 PM
Annual_Meeting_16-Web6.jpg2016 Volunteer of the Year Ron Winner (second from left) with Tony (from left) and Lorraine Shepley and Ron's wife Wendy Winner.

Nearly five years ago Diane Barry came to Cape Cod at one of the lowest points in her life. She was homeless and struggling with substance abuse.

Her destination was HAC’s Angel House shelter in Hyannis. “I was looking for a new start,” Barry told nearly 300 attendees at HAC’s 42nd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition last month. “At Angel House I got the support that I needed and I was loved when I couldn’t love myself.”

Today, Barry is happily married, with three children, including a daughter she was able to reconnect with thanks to the support of Angel House. She will be five years sober in November. And she lives in a HAC-owned apartment in Hyannis, calling herself “blessed to be able to stay here on Cape Cod.”

Last year, HAC helped hundreds of people not unlike Barry, making a difference in their lives when they needed it most. At its Annual Meeting, HAC took time to honor those assisting the agency in that effort.

“We help everybody,” CEO Rick Presbrey said in speaking about the importance of HAC’s work. “We spend time with them. We care about them. We try to show them they are important to us and they are important to themselves and they have lots of potential and there are solutions to their problems.”

To that end, 784 volunteers donated 17,835 hours assisting staff in showing clients that they matter. One of those volunteers, Ron Winner, has done so by preparing meals at HAC’s NOAH Shelter and for mothers and their children at Angel House.

HAC recognized Winner with the Volunteer of the Year Award. “Ron shows other people he cares and that gives them hope,” HAC’s Deanna Bussiere said in presenting the award. “Sometimes hope is just what people need to try to change their lives.”

A Challenge to Others

This year’s Business Partner Award was given to Bill and Linda Zammer, owners of Cape Cod Restaurants, who have been longtime supporters of HAC. Mr. Zammer challenged other businesses to step up and help those in need. “That is what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s about us doing it.”

In presenting John and Kathy Ohman, co-founders of FORWARD (Friends Or Relatives With Autism And Related Disabilities) with the 2016 Human Services Partner Award, HAC’s Housing Development Project Manager Kate Ferreira said, “What I admire most about Kathy and John, among other things, is their commitment to their community and their perseverance in seeing things through.” HAC is working with FORWARD to build housing for adults with autism or related disabilities in Dennis. Two of the Ohmans three children are on the autism spectrum.

Annual_Meeting_16-Web11.jpgJohn  (left) and Kathy Ohman (second from right) with HAC CEO Rick Presbrey and HAC Housing Development Project Manager Kate Ferreira. The Ohmans were the recipients of the 2016 Human Services Award.

The Transitional Living Center Committee was the recipient of the Make a Difference Award. The committee is working to find a new site for the living center that will eventually replace HAC’s NOAH Shelter. Its members include Chair Elizabeth Wurfbain, executive director of the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District (BID); Deborah Krau, vice president of the Greater Hyannis Civic Association; Barnstable Police Chief Paul MacDonald; Heidi Nelson, CEO of Duffy Health Center; Paula Schnepp, the regional network coordinator for the Cape & Islands Regional Network to Address Homelessness; Abbott “Sid” Davidson of the Lyndon Paul Lorusso Charitable Foundation; and HAC’s Rick Presbrey.

“We all wanted to recognize this group for the work they’ve done so far and say, you know, let’s keep this going,” Presbrey said. “Let’s keep plowing along and get it done and let’s get something we’re all happy with.”

The meeting ended with HAC paying tribute to former employee and volunteer Mitzi Holmes who passed away at the end of last year. Mitzi’s sister-in-law Margaret and sister Johanna were in attendance with the latter proudly saying, “my sister talked nonstop about HAC and her passion for your work.”

Click this link to see more photos of this year's Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition. 

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, Annual Meeting, NOAH Shelter, Housing on Cape Cod, The Transitional Living Center, Transitional Living Center of Cape Cod Committee

The Joy of Becoming a Homeowner on Cape Cod

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 @ 10:08 AM
Durante Family Photo resized 600Scott and Lynn Durante with their children Hailey (from left), Anthony, Charlotte, Elizabeth and Jeweleann in their Cotuit home.

How does one celebrate becoming a first-time homeowner?

After he and his wife closed on their new home in Cotuit - but before they moved in at the end of October - Scott Durante did so by sitting quietly on the front steps of that house, thinking about how his life was about to soon change for the better. “It was an amazing feeling to know a lot of our hard work was actually paying off,” he said.

A little more than a month later, as the holiday season began, Scott went shopping for a Christmas tree to put in that home. Of course, he purchased the biggest one he could find for his living room. “It was too dang big for the room,” he laughed. “But it was my first year as a homeowner so I decided we’ll have a huge tree. It was great, especially having them [our kids] wake up and be in their own home on Christmas. My oldest daughter is almost 16 and never had a home of her own until now.”

Until a few months ago, Scott, his wife Lynn and their five children Elizabeth, 15; Jeweleann, 13; Hailey, 11; Anthony, 7; and Charlotte, 2, had only rented homes in Centerville, never knowing the satisfaction and pride that comes with being a homeowner.

That changed two years ago when the Durantes were informed by their landlord that he was intending to sell their rental.

So the couple visited Gael Kelleher, HAC’s director of real estate, asking her for guidance. Kelleher suggested they may qualify for a USDA loan which helps low-income families become homeowners.

Since then Scott and Lynn took the requisite classes through HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) to help rebuild their credit and prepare them for becoming first-time homebuyers.

“The thing that’s so good with them is they followed all the rules,” said Kelleher. “They took the class. They fixed their credit. They did everything a first-time homebuyer should do.”

HAC Provided Much-Needed Help

Scott, who works full-time as a tow truck driver, had similar praise for the work HAC did in helping his family which has gone through some difficult times over the years.

In 2007, the Durantes had to move out of their home and into his mother’s house in West Barnstable after he lost his job. “HAC has been great,” Scott said. “When we were down and out a couple of times, my wife called you. At one point we were referred to a shelter, but we didn’t take it.”

The family’s problems did not end there. Five years ago, he and his wife noticed their son was having physical difficulties – eye fluttering, pausing when he walked – so they took him to a neurologist. Anthony underwent an MRI, discovering that he had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in his brain, requiring surgery.

“It was very scary being told your son is going to have brain surgery to save his life,” Scott said.

Today, Anthony is a healthy vibrant boy though he requires therapy to address his physical and sensory needs. “He is very smart, but you have to kind of keep him engaged,” Scott said. To that end, the Durante’s home in Cotuit has been a blessing. A room with a hot tub has since been transformed into a recreational space for Anthony.

“It was good to get our own home so we could build a room for his needs,” Scott said.

The house, a small saltbox with three bedrooms, a finished basement and a wooded lot, has also been a much-needed gift for the entire family which includes pugs Bella and Brutus. Thanks to the home, the Durantes have been able to save more than $400 a month in their mortgage compared to what they paid in rent.

Perhaps the best part for the Durantes is the freedom they have since gained. “You don’t have to call the landlord and ask him what color paint is acceptable or if you can put up a shelf,” Scott said. “You don’t have to ask the landlord to replace the stove or refrigerator. We have the freedom to do whatever we want, to a point, and don’t have to answer to anybody else.”

 

Help Other HAC Clients  Become First-Time Homebuyers

Tags: Cape Cod, Scott Durante, homeowner, Housing on Cape Cod, Gael Kelleher

Santander Bank Shows Support for HAC

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 @ 01:06 PM
DSC 0090 resized 600Santander Bank officials present HAC's Julie Wake (third from right) with a $1,000 large mock-up check last week. On hand to present her with the check were bank manager Mwanyota Allen (from left), tellers Schericia Barber, Gerry Bowen and Laura Lacina, bank manager Autumn Banks and bank senior vice president Brian Devaney.

The people have spoken and collectively they have chosen HAC as a local non-profit worthy of backing. That message was sent by patrons of the two Hyannis branches of Santander Bank.

Santander, which purchased Sovereign Bank last year, recently held a competition at each of its branches on Cape Cod, asking customers to vote for a charity it believed should be awarded $500 to support its programs and services.

In downtown Hyannis and on West Main Street, Hyannis, bank customers voted for HAC. Last Wednesday at the West Main Street branch bank officials presented Julie Wake, director of communications and development for HAC, with a mock-up check for $1,000 – as well as a real $1,000 check – that showed the community’s appreciation for the work being done at the non-profit.

“It is a great organization,” Brian Devaney, senior vice president for Santander, said of HAC.

Several of his fellow employees including Autumn Banks, the manager for the downtown branch, and bank teller Laura Lacina, have benefitted from HAC programs over the years.

Banks took the first time homebuyers class and took advantage of the down payment assistance program, using that as the foundation for purchasing a home in Yarmouth two years ago.

And Lacina purchased a three-bedroom condo in Marstons Mills in 2005 through a HAC housing lottery. There she raised her two children, and found a supporting environment in the condo complex. “The 30 homes there, we are more than a community. We are like a family,” she said.

Lacina serves as a beacon of hope for those currently waiting to find affordable housing on Cape Cod. She had put her name into the lottery three times prior to 2005. “It does work,” she said of the process.

Tags: Julie Wake, HAC, Housing on Cape Cod, Santander Bank

HAC's New Board Chair Sets Sights on Cape Cod's Workforce Housing

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sun, May 25, 2014 @ 09:15 AM

david augustinho headshot resized 600

Over the past 13 years David Augustinho has aimed to address the needs of the region’s private sector as the executive director of the Cape & Islands Workforce Investment Board.

To ensure those needs are being met Augustinho realizes there must be adequate workforce housing to properly fill the seasonal and year-round jobs available on Cape Cod. “One of the issues we face with workforce development is worker housing,” he said. “It is an area, since I’ve been involved in workforce development, that I’ve been invested in and I think that we as a community need to address because there is somewhat of a mismatch between the cost of housing and the wages available in the region.”

Augustinho’s interest in this housing-related issue is what led him to the Housing Assistance Corporation’s (HAC) board of directors two years ago. At HAC’s Annual Meeting in April he took the leap from board member to chair of the executive committee, replacing Joan Bassett who has served in that capacity for the past three years.

In his new role, Augustinho said he wants to continue to place an emphasis on developing housing that meets the needs of Cape Cod’s labor force.

He also had high praise for the work HAC does with the homeless and hopes that efforts to address this segment of the Cape’s population remain a top priority. “I know a lot of homelessness is driven by substance and mental health issues,” he said. “Personally, I enjoy working on those issues. And as a society we’ve made decisions that have exacerbated the homelessness issue such as deinstitutionalizing the mental health population without really providing a range of services that meets the needs of those individuals.”

That is why, he said, HAC plays a vital role in the community, particularly to those who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness. “I think HAC provides hope,” he said.

Augustinho also was complimentary of HAC staff and their enthusiasm for tackling what are admittedly difficult issues. “You can really sense the positive energy throughout the organization,” he said. “Management and staff at Housing Assistance Corporation understand how important their work is and in my experience show an empathy for the clients they serve.”

He was eager to build upon the strong foundation the board has laid in the past three years under Joan Bassett’s chairmanship.

Bassett has a long history with HAC, having been a client and then an employee before becoming a board member in 2002. She will remain on the board as its clerk.

Prior to his current role with the Cape & Islands Workforce Investment Board, Augustinho served as the business retention specialist for the Fall River Office of Economic Development. He has also worked as the director of operations for the Bristol County Convention & Visitors Bureau and spent nine years as the staff director for former State Representative Joan M. Menard.

Tags: housing, HAC, Housing on Cape Cod, David Augustinho, workforce housing

Rick Presbrey's Editorial: Reflecting

Posted by Julie Wake on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

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2014 is HAC’s 40th year in business! I have been here the whole time.

The undocumentable number of people we have helped now is 160,000! Even with the undeniable duplication contained in that number we must have helped at least 50,000. That is a lot.

I still love coming to work almost every day. When I wake up and don’t feel like getting up and going to work, I feel great once I get here. I’ve thought a lot about why that is true and what is special about HAC.

When I say what I am about to say I am not bragging I am just recognizing the obvious truth: the founder of an organization has a major effect on the culture of that organization and that same is true here. I am pro client and get almost all of my satisfaction from seeing people helped. That does not mean that I am anti-anybody because I like to solve problems faced by landlords, towns, our staff and others as well. It also doesn’t mean that I will never give up on someone. I do and I will when that person won’t follow up on doing what they can for themselves.

We all see things differently. I tend-to a fault-to see the good in people. I like almost everyone. I absolutely love the staff at HAC and I like the people who I talk to in our waiting room. But liking someone and seeking to help them and seeking to achieve fairness and justice for them are not always the same thing.

I want people coming in to our waiting room or calling on the phone to feel welcome and cared about. Why? Because they are good people who are struggling to get their lives in order. Just as you and I are struggling to get ours in order, so are they but their job is almost always more difficult than ours. I have seen so many people get their lives in order in ways that I could never have done. My parents were married 50 years, I have four years of high school, four years of college and a graduate degree and have never been unemployed for even five minutes. I have never lived with an alcoholic or an abuser. How lucky am I? Pretty lucky. People have been nice to me even when I didn’t deserve to be treated well.

I will be leaving HAC within the next few years. What do I want my legacy to be? First, I want the agency to do more and to do it even better after I leave. But I want my legacy to be excellent treatment of our clients and our community. The way I recently started looking at it is that:

Beauty equals justice.

Seeing the beauty and value in everyone is a motivator for all of us to seek fairness and justice for all. 

Donate to help HAC build a community where everyone has a safe, stable and decent place to live.

Tags: housing assistance corporation, Rick Presbrey, Housing on Cape Cod

Editorial: Remembering A Friend

Posted by Laura Reckford on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 @ 10:59 AM

bob judy margaret deanna web

I was reminded of my own mortality a few weeks ago with the death of a good friend, Bob Murray. Bob worked right up until the end on the cause he believed in, affordable housing on Cape Cod.

I knew Bob Murray for 20 years from about the time my youngest son was born. Now Bob is gone and my son is in college. If I look at what Bob accomplished in that time, I am amazed. Time seems to pass more quickly as you get older which means if you want to accomplish something, you better move quickly. Bob certainly did that. He was very sociable and likeable but he didn’t like to waste time.

Bob worked at HAC in the early 1990s as a grant writer and did very well. He then became the Executive Director of the Falmouth Housing Authority where he remained for 16 years. Bob was the founder of the Harwich Ecumenical Council for Housing and the Falmouth Housing Corporation and was the moving force behind the creation of Project Prevention, the program that uses funds to help pay rent or mortgage payments to keep families from becoming homeless when a crisis intervenes.

He was also a very successful affordable housing developer. He may be best known for his “Housing with Love Walk” where each year in July for more than 20 years he would walk from one end of the Cape to the other to raise money for agencies that helped to house people experiencing homelessness.

Bob was a true friend to HAC. He had a very deep commitment for our cause and worked very hard for 20 years from very early in the morning until at least nightfall for the cause of affordable housing. Bob was always pushing hard towards accomplishing his latest goal whether it was to house a single person or build a 100-unit project. And he was always raising money. He could talk anyone out of money be it a bank or a potential individual donor. I know, he did it to me.

He had boundless energy and creativity and was the one person in the room who always had an idea about how to solve a problem.  Now he is gone and the Cape has lost a great resource and a great man.

Reflections on Bob Murray from HAC Staffers

Allison Alewine, HAC’s former Vice President of Operations, Family Housing Services Department: "Bob was an unstoppable force for affordable housing and his focus, thank goodness, was Cape Cod. He tried whatever he thought might work and, if it didn't, he tried something else. One could join him or not, but he keptgoing. Ecumenical Councils bought & rented houses or raised money (grocery gift cards a special brainchild of Bob's) so that families would be housed instead of sheltered. He'd say we are to pass it on, pay it forward. I will do
that in his model."

Dolores Barbati-Poore, HAC’s Project Prevention Director, Family Housing Services Department: Having known Bob since he started Project Prevention in 1990, to me he was and will always be the father of [homeless] prevention, in other words, preventing people from becoming homeless. I can remember him saying, “Just $200 a month can save a family from becoming homeless.” Bob never took “no” for an answer and he never stopped thinking of ideas to raise money for prevention.

Margaret Benaka, HAC’s  Information Manager, Resource Development Department: I only truly got to know Bob when HAC joined the Housing With Love Walk. In those few years I got to know a man who is committed, compassionate, stubborn, not afraid to question, approachable, and a tireless advocate for those in need. He didn’t seem to let anything get in the way of completing a project or reaching a goal. I had the utmost respect and admiration for Bob – he was a true leader and an inspiration. Perhaps the thing I will personally remember
most is Bob’s relationship with his wife Judy. There was an undeniable mutual respect, love and admiration.  Even though Bob committed his life to the community, he didn’t seem to let his relationship with Judy suffer. They were a great team.

Deanna Bussiere, HAC’s Events & Resource Development Coordinator, Resource Development Department: Bob Murray was such an inspiration. He did not hesitate to share what was on his mind and if he wanted something to get done, he made it happen. I will miss his Cheshire Cat grin, his caring blue eyes and his typical greeting, “Hey kiddo, what’s up?” To paraphrase an anonymous author: “Good things come to those who wait. Greater things come to those who are willing to work for it.” I wonder if that anonymous author had Bob in mind?

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Housing with love walk, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod

HAC’s Cape Community Real Estate: ‘Market Very Lively’

Posted by Laura Reckford on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Cape Community Real Estate

Cape Community Real Estate, Housing Assistance Corporation’s nonprofit real estate division, is buzzing. Deed-restricted homes that become available have been selling quickly through lotteries.

“The market is very lively,” according to Realtor Gael Kelleher, Director of Real Estate in HAC’s Consumer Education Department. “We are hoping there will be more inventory but they are selling quickly.”

For example, a deed-restricted house in Marstons Mills that the owners had purchased in 1989 for $68,000 and raised their family in the home, just sold for $148,000 to a new young family.

“We’re hoping for more of those,” Gael said.  “It’s exactly the way affordable housing is designed to work.”

The next deed-restricted resale opportunity is a home in the Pilgrim Pines subdivision in Bourne. Lottery opportunities are also coming in Chatham, Forestdale, Cotuit and Sandwich. These will be affordable, deed-restricted properties, so the prices will be right.

Check HAC’s website for new offerings.

To be first on the list for these deed-restricted homes, buyers need to be pre-approved from a lender. To get on the Ready to Buy Wait List, download the application, --Ready to Buy application

Bring your pre-approvals to HAC’s experienced real estate team, Gael Kelleher and Karen Davis, Sales Associate. They work with buyers from all economic levels.

 

Tags: HAC, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod, Cape Community Real Estate

Golf Day To End Homelessness A Success At Bass River

Posted by Laura Reckford on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Ken and Janice Lyman of Yarmouthport have long been supporters of Housing Assistance Corporation’s Project Prevention through their church, St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth, but the couple decided they could do more.

Mr. Lyman suggested this spring that his club, the Retired Men’s Club of Cape Cod, raise money for the cause through one of their golf tournaments. The club schedules about five tournaments every spring and fall to raise money for various charities.

The “Golf Day To End Homelessness—Closest-to-the-Pin Contest” was held Monday, May 20 at Bass River Golf Course. About 80 people attended, Mr. Lyman said.

The event raised $700 for Project Prevention.

Also involved in helping with the tournament, including the critical role of working at the tee and measuring the distance to the “pin,” were David Puchalsky of South Yarmouth and Paul and Marcia Karhu of Dennis, who are members of the Congregational Church of South Dennis, which, like St. Pius X is among the 13 churches that are part of Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Prevention of Homelessness (DYECH).

Paul Karhu had been involved for the past two years in running a similar golf tournament at Dennis Highlands. Success of the tournament was limited so he was interested in switching the fundraiser to Bass River Golf Course. Mr. Karhu has also participated over the years in HAC’s Walk to End Homelessness. He did his first walk in 1999.

Tags: housing, Homeless on Cape Cod, Homeless, DYECH, Project Prevention, Prevention, HAC, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod

The Big Fix In Mashpee An Opportunity To Help Those In Need

Posted by Laura Reckford on Sun, Aug 11, 2013 @ 11:00 AM

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Help veterans, seniors, and disabled homeowners in the Town of Mashpee by joining The
Big Fix on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013.

Coordinated by Housing Assistance Corporation, The Big Fix sends teams of volunteers to
assist homeowners with clean-up, landscaping, and small home repair projects.
Since 2010, HAC has mobilized over 250 volunteers and assisted 40 households in
Barnstable, Sandwich and Dennis.

 Kick-off will be at Mashpee High School, and begins at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and donuts.
Most houses are finished by 1:00 p.m. Volunteers also receive lunch and a
T-shirt.

Spend half a day and make a real difference in the comfort, safety, and quality of life for
those in need in our community.

 Volunteers should be physically able to perform tasks of moderate intensity, such as
pruning hedges, raking, hauling brush, cleaning gutters, and moving heavy/bulky
items to and from storage.

Basic home repair skills (painting, carpentry, electric, plumbing, masonry) are a plus but
not required.

Minors must be accompanied and supervised by a parent or guardian. Please, no pets.

Interested individuals and groups should sign up by Sept. 13
at www.haconcapecod.org/big-fix.

Get further information by contacting HAC Volunteer Coordinator, Mary Everett-Patriquin, at
volunteer@haconcapecod.org, or by phone at 508-771-5400, ext. 279.

Tags: volunteers, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod, volunteering, Big Fix