Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Housing With Love Walk: Miles & Smiles

Posted by Laura Reckford on Fri, Aug 09, 2013 @ 11:00 AM

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More than 200 people, more than 30 cases of water, 104 miles and lots of sweat and smiles.

The 21st Annual Bob Murray Housing With Love Walk ended Sunday July 21 with a party at
Liam Maguire’s Irish Pub in Falmouth as walkers celebrated another year of fundraising and fellowship.

Bob Murray, 73, started the walk 21 years ago when he worked at Housing Assistance Corporation. His health prevented him from walking this year, but he was represented at the party by his wife Judy and his daughter Carol, as people gave updates and sent prayers and accolades. “Bob Murray is an inspiration to us all,” Deanna Bussiere, HAC’s Event Resource and Development Coordinator, said. “All the people he has helped over the years is amazing.”

The Housing With Love Walk course is designed to be tough, scheduled as it is on the hottest time of the year, said HAC’s Margaret Benaka, and this year did not disappoint. Margaret, who, with Deanna, drove the support van for the entire seven-day walk, said the biggest challenge this year was the heat. The temperature was in the 90s on six days of the seven day walk and may have made it up into the low 100s in the heat of the day, as walkers journeyed the mostly unshaded highways of the Cape.

In honor of Bob Murray, Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank sent teams of people for every day of the walk beginning on the first day when Dorothy Savarese, bank president, and David Willard, director of community relations, started off in Provincetown.

The most miles the walkers traveled in one day was 19.6, on Wednesday, July 17, when the walkers traveled from Chatham to Yarmouth along Route 28.

Two women, Laurie Sexton of Harwich and Patricia Goggin of West Dennis and Whitehouse Station, New Jersey walked the entire walk. DJ Sullivan, 77, has walked the entire route in past years, set out to do the same this year, but had to stop on Thursday because of the heat and blisters.

The walk is a fundraiser for 12 Cape Cod housing agencies. One anonymous donor stopped by and gave $50 to one of the walkers. Housing Assistance Corporation raised more than $27,500 through the walk with money still coming in. The agency’s goal is $30,000.

Pastor Christian Holleck of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Harwich, in a sermon about the walk, said, “It wasn’t about the number of miles I did, but connecting with people, learning more about some of the efforts to work for affordable housing, being inspired by people who care.” He said what the walk is really all about is, “helping people get on their feet, helping them find stability, a home, work, health, dignity. . . .”

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

Editorial: Hershey's Kisses

Posted by Laura Reckford on Mon, Jun 03, 2013 @ 04:01 PM

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The following is excerpted from a speech made at HAC’s annual meeting and volunteer recognition dinner

Most people on the Cape and islands don’t know much about HAC.

Hershey Chocolate Company in Hershey, Pennsylvania has the opposite problem. Everyone knows what Hershey does: makes chocolate. People value chocolate and get instant

gratification from it.

HAC doesn’t provide instant gratification. But like Hershey’s,

HAC produces useful products. They make lots of chocolate and we make lots of peoples’ lives better.

Here are 10 of the many things that HAC does:

1. Foreclosure Help

For more than six years we have had three people working on foreclosures full time, serving well over 3,000 Cape and islands homeowners. We still average 13 new cases each week!

Our data shows that we have had successful outcomes in nearly 2/3 of our cases. We have never charged a penny.

2. Energy Services

For four decades we have made homes owned and rented by lower income Cape and islanders safer, more comfortable, less expensive to operate and more energy efficient.

Hundreds are helped each year and thousands have been helped overall. And we replaced or repaired 288 failing heating systems last year at no charge, not to mention the 442 we cleaned and tuned!

3. Section 8 Assistance

We have nearly 1,000 rental units where we assist the occupants. Many receiving help are elderly or disabled and many are families with jobs that just don’t pay enough. About 10% a year are able to opt out of the program.

4. Family Self-Sufficiency

Family Self Sufficiency participants get long term counseling to help them build employment skills and increase financial literacy. We have about 50 families now working to earn more, improve their credit, save enough money to buy a house or get more education, and to make progress towards moving away from public assistance.

5. Housing Development and Facility Maintenance

HAC has built well over 100 single family homes and more than 300 apartments, all of which are affordable. We have also built housing for people with disabilities. We have nearly 200 units in various stages of pre-development right now.

6. HCEC Services

We provide time and advice to help anyone facing housing crises. In 2012 we served 3,850 households one-on-one in this way.

7. Classes and workshops

We have held evening workshops for nearly 20 years on subjects such as Creating a Budget, Rebuilding Your Credit, Home Forever for homeowners, and Homebuyer Education.

In 2012 we had 363 people complete one or more of these workshop series.

8. Shelter

Each night, 365 nights and days a year our family and individual shelters provide a safe environment for people who have nowhere to go. We wish shelters weren’t needed, but until they are not, we try to help people make the most of their time in shelter. Counseling, employment services, and education, are all part of daily shelter life.

9. Project Prevention

It is better for the household, and far less expensive, to help prevent people from losing their homes. Often, for as little as $500, we can keep someone from facing the crisis of homelessness. Prevention served 344 households in 2012.

10. Big Fix

Going into its fourth year, the Big Fix is a community outreach project where we organize volunteers, professionals and staff to help repair homes on one weekend in one town each year. So far, a total of 40 homeowners have been helped in the towns of Barnstable, Sandwich and Dennis by the Big Fix through the work of 469 volunteers! This year, the Big Fix goes to Mashpee on September 28th.

Often those we help are elderly and unable to do many of the daily tasks around their homes.

When you bite into a handful of Reese’s Pieces, a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar, a Kiss, or a Mr. Goodbar, think of HAC. Hershey’s is a well loved company but it may just be the case that the work we do at HAC is more important.

Come take a tour of our “making lives better factory” right here in Hyannis. There’s no charge and you may even get a Kiss!

Tags: Energy Assessments, housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, Housing on Cape Cod, MA Rental Voucher Program, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Cape Community Real Estate

HAC Client Speaks Out At State House

Posted by Laura Reckford on Mon, Jun 03, 2013 @ 03:14 PM

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On Monday, March 11, 2013, Marieh Azari along with housing counselors from Housing Assistance Corporation and South Shore Housing headed to Boston for the annual Regional Housing Network Legislative Meeting.

This meeting provides an opportunity for the nine member agencies of Regional Housing Network to meet with individual legislators and aides. The goal of this meeting is to promote the programs and services offered through the various agencies assisting residents to find and stabilize their housing situation throughout the state of Massachusetts, and to secure the continued voting support of our legislators.

In 2002, after escaping from domestic abuse with her then two-year-old son, Benjamin, Marieh found herself homeless in the city of Boston.

“The HCEC person, Kathy Facchini, worked quickly to get me and my son into transitional housing at New Hope Shelter for Women in Attleboro,” Marieh said, explaining how she eventually used the resources around her to get the help she needed.

While in shelter Marieh attended Blaine School for Hair and became a hairdresser by day. By night she was filling out housing applications, “at least 10-20 every single day.” South Shore Housing’s Consumer Education staff walked her through the daunting process.

By 2004, thanks to South Shore Housing, Marieh and her son received a housing unit subsidy in Bourne. “We were literally dropped off on the front steps of a condo with all that we owned, which filled two small suitcases. We both cried out of relief as well as fear. South Shore had connected me to Referral to Resources for clothing, child care and food,” Marieh said.

Marieh and her son lived in this Bourne condo for about 8 years. During this time she was able to go back to school and she became a nurse. She continued to maintain a very close relationship with her South Shore HCEC “family.” “Those eight years took a real toll on my Benjamin. The trauma of what we both had been through with his dad, living in shelter and then living in what most people would call the ‘projects’ of Bourne had stolen his childhood. His self-esteem was low, his grades were horrible and he was physically not growing,” Marieh explains.

By 2011 Marieh graduated from the nursing program and had dreams of owning her own home. South Shore referred her to Housing Assistance Corporation’s HCEC contact, which led her to the First Time Homebuyers Program.

“I then worked with HAC’s real estate office, Cape Community Real Estate, and in 2012, purchased a beautiful new home in Sandwich. I’m now an official Cape Codder. My Benjamin has come out of his darkness and sorrow. He’s gone from a D student to an A student. He’s physically growing. I see the changes every day since the first day of homeownership,” describes Marieh.

Marieh also describes, “I would not have been able to get out of a bad cycle without the constant connection to both HCEC teams. Not only did they keep me moving through a horrible situation, but they motivated me to move up and out.”

To learn about HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center, please visit us online at www.HAConCapeCod.org or call 508-771-5400.

Tags: Homeless, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod

HAC Free Energy Assessments

Posted by Laura Reckford on Thu, May 02, 2013 @ 04:22 PM

Enhanced Residential Program (60% of median income):

  • FREE high efficiency lighting
  • FREE refrigerator replacement (if existing model is inefficient)
  • FREE insulation, air sealing and other weatherization (up to $3,000 in value)
  • Potential heating system upgrade (if existing system is determined to be highly inefficient)

If you currently receive NSTAR’s  Discount Rate and/or household income below 60% of median income, you are eligible for a free home energy assessment, which may include the installation of conservation measures all at no cost. If you would like more information, please call Cape Light Compact at (800) 797-6699.

To determine your income level, please review the 2013 INCOME GUIDELINES.

Your income level and household size may qualify you for a variety of programs including:

  • Fuel assistance
  • Reduced utility rates
  • Free weatherization and energy efficiency services

 

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To apply for fuel assistance:
South Shore Community Action Council
Call (508) 778-0870, Hyannis office only during the winter months
Call (877) 383-5243, year round office in Plymouth

To inquire about electric discount rates:
Call NSTAR at (800) 566-2080

For help managing past due electric bills:
Call NSTAR at (866) 315-2496 and ask about their new Arrearage Forgiveness Program

To inquire about gas discount rates:
Call National Grid at (800) 532-9600

For more information about energy assistance programs available to Massachusetts residents:
Visit Citizens Energy

Tags: Energy Assessments, Cape Light Compact, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod, saving energy, utility bills, Energy Audit

Don’t Miss the Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition

Posted by Julie Wake on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 @ 07:00 AM
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There’s still time to register for Housing Assistance Corporation’s 38th annual meeting and volunteer recognition dinner, to be held 5-7 p.m. April 25 at the Cape Codder Resort and Spa, 1225 Route 132, Hyannis.

The Rev. John Terry of the Federated Church of Hyannis will be presented with the Presbrey Public Service Award in recognition of his service to those in need on Cape Cod.

Other honorees include the Cape Cod Community Media Center (the Business Partner Award) and the Barnstable Police Department (the Human Services Partner Award). Scott Barron and Bob Zibbell, longtime drivers at the Village at Cataumet, are this year’s Volunteers of the Year.

This year’s annual meeting and volunteer recognition is sponsored by Shepley Wood Products (shepleywood.com), a Hyannis-based company that received HAC’s Business Partner Award in 2012.

Dinner will be served and a cash bar will be available. RSVP by April 22 by visiting www.HAConCapeCod.org.

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, HAC Volunteer Recognition, Volunteer Cape Cod, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod, HAC Volunteers, Shepley

Editorial: Finding Nemo by Rick Presbrey

Posted by Julie Wake on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 @ 09:00 AM
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For those of you who don’t know, HAC has a farm. It is a small farm, in Sandwich, where there is a 44-plot community garden, a 1.5-acre market garden, three goats and 22 chickens. The caretaker, who lives in the Curio House on the property is Jim MacDougall. Jim takes care of the complicated zero-net-energy house, the land, the gardening equipment and various improvements. This year he will be building an equipment storage barn, for example. Jim also has five years of professional experience taking care of chickens and recently attended “goat” school in Maine. Jim, as you can tell, is a skilled and versatile guy.

On Feb. 7, the day before this winter’s big blizzard, Jim was preparing for the animals to be safe and secure. He was disturbed to note that one of the chickens, who had become increasingly sickly during the few days prior, was not eating and could barely walk. He had been concerned for the chicken, but with the storm coming he felt that there was no way that the chicken would survive. With the resolve of a professional chicken farmer, Jim did something that he had done many times when working on a large chicken farm. He put the chicken out of its misery by breaking its neck. Since the ground was frozen, he temporarily disposed of the body in a square plastic compost bin behind the goat house. It was the second chicken that had been lost (the other was run over by a car) and each one was a loss for Jim, but he reasoned only losing two over the course of two years was not too bad.

The farm is an uncomfortable place in the winter. The sky is gray, the ground is barren with the refuse from last year’s crops, making people huddle inside by the warmth of the hearth, and animals huddle in the coop and goat house, sharing the warmth from each other.

The storm, winds and cold came as predicted followed by a second snow storm. After the second storm tapered off, on Feb. 18, Jim was cleaning up the coop and the goat house and went to put some material in the composter.

Farmers know that compost “cooks.” Deep in the center of any compost pile, if it is working as we expect, it is warm. And within that compost pile, the ingredients that eventually become nourishing soil are breaking down.

When Jim went to add to the compost, he expected a little warmth, but what he didn’t expect was a healthy energized chicken! His neck-breaking skill must have eroded over the years, leaving a sick but alive chicken in the protected warmth of the nourishing compost for about 11 days. Jim, who loves his chickens, had fortuitously put the chicken in the intensive care unit of his farm. The bright golden brown chicken, now known as Nemo, is now happy and healthy and back to the business of laying eggs.

Too often, perhaps, we give up on each other, when a little warmth and nourishment may make all the difference.

Tags: HACbeat, Community Green, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod

Annual Meeting Honorees Named

Posted by Julie Wake on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 @ 11:30 AM
Housing Assistance Corporation’s annual meeting and volunteer recognition dinner will be held 5-7 p.m. April 25 at the Cape Codder Resort and Spa, 1225 Route 132, Hyannis.
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Among those being honored at HAC’s 38th annual meeting will be the Rev. John Terry of the Federated Church of Hyannis, who will be given the Presbrey Public Service Award in recognition of his service to those in need on Cape Cod.

This year’s recipient of the Business Partner Award is the Cape Cod Community Media Center, whose staff and volunteers go beyond the call of duty in putting together a live showing of the NOAH Telethon every December.

The Barnstable Police Department will receive the Human Services Partner Award in recognition of the department’s sensitivity in dealing with the Cape’s homeless population.

Scott Barron and Bob Zibbell, longtime drivers at the Village at Cataumet, will be this year’s Volunteers of the Year recipients.

This year’s annual meeting and volunteer recognition is sponsored by Shepley Wood Products, a Hyannis-based company that received HAC’s Business Partner Award in 2012.

Dinner will be served and a cash bar will be available. RSVP by April 11.
describe the image This event has been generously sponsored by Shepley!

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, HAC Volunteer Recognition, Volunteer Cape Cod, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod, Shepley

Waldorf School Students Visit HAC’s Curio House at Community Green

Posted by Julie Wake on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

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“Houses of the Past, Present and Future” was the theme of a recent block in teacher Kim Allsup’s third-grade class at the Waldorf School of Cape Cod.

“So, I was thrilled when Adrienne Danner of HAC told us that a house of the future, Curio House, is here on Cape Cod and that we could visit,” Allsup said. Curio House is the energy-efficient home that is the first residence at HAC’s Community Green in Sandwich.

Allsup said her class prepared for their field trip by studying the science and importance of solar energy. “We went into the playground at school on a sunny day and touched objects that had been warmed by the sun, including a brick wall, black hinges, grass, pavement and black, plastic composters. Then we worked together to list these from the warmest to the coolest. (The black metal hinges were warmest and the grass was coolest.)

“We also had a homework assignment in which students had to say what fuel was used in their homes and how it arrived (oil in trucks, gas in pipes, wood in trucks.) We talked about how each of these forms of fuel produces waste when burned.

“During our visit to Curio House it was easy for the children to understand the principle of passive solar heat since they had all felt the warm hinges and the warm brick wall at school. And, it was impressive that this little house of the future would produce far less waste than houses of today because there would be no oil trucks or wood trucks necessary. In addition to touring the house and hearing a description of how it operates from Mr. MacDougall, we also enjoyed visiting with the goats and the chickens. We thank HAC, Adrienne Danner and Jim MacDougall for our visit to Curio House.”

Tags: Community Green, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Curio House

HAC’s Numbers Girl for NOAH Telethon

Posted by Julie Wake on Wed, Nov 21, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

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Olivia Williams didn’t know in 2006 that she was starting a tradition. Just 6 years old, she went on the air each hour of the NOAH Telethon to give the hosts updated pledge numbers. She’s been doing it ever since. The first couple of years she taped a paper bed to a house for every $540 raised (enough to cover the costs of one bed at NOAH for one night per month). Olivia has grown through the years, as pictures taken in 2006 and last year show.

Volunteer for the NOAH Telethon!

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, NOAH Telethon, housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, Housing on Cape Cod, volunteering

HAC Wins Grant to Boost Foreclosure Department

Posted by Julie Wake on Mon, Nov 19, 2012 @ 02:25 PM
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office recently awarded HAC $167,306 to hire a foreclosure-prevention counseling coordinator for two years.
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“This grant will improve our capacity to see more people more quickly,” said Nancy Davison, HAC vice president of operations.

A total of $4 million in HomeCorps grants was awarded to 18 organizations across the Commonwealth to help address the foreclosure crisis, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced. The grant funding will assist homeowners and renters impacted by the foreclosure crisis, revitalize distressed and blighted neighborhoods, and guard against future financial harm. The funding is the result of a nationwide settlement involving the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers and their connection with unlawful foreclosures and loan servicing.

The Crisis Response Innovation Grants, a component of AG Coakley’s HomeCorps program, support a wide variety of foreclosure prevention and mitigation services across the Commonwealth. They are the latest in a series of HomeCorps Partnership Grants that fund loan modification assistance, free direct legal representation to distressed borrowers and post foreclosure stabilization assistance to families, as well as efforts to help communities recover from the foreclosure crisis by addressing abandoned housing and mitigating neighborhood blight.

“Our economy will never fully recover until we address the impact of the foreclosure crisis,” AG Coakley said. “These grants are designed to help strengthen struggling communities, provide direct assistance to distressed borrowers, and avoid unnecessary foreclosures. The organizations receiving these funds are doing work that is a critical part of those efforts.”

Funding for the these grants comes from the $44.5 million in funds obtained for Massachusetts as part of the national settlement with Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and GMAC/Ally. According to the settlement signed in April by a federal judge, the banks are also ordered to provide an estimated $14.6 million in cash payments to Bay State borrowers and $257 million worth of mortgage relief across the Commonwealth.

The addition of a foreclosure-prevention counseling coordinator at HAC will improve the initial inquiry response time, address the increased demand for counseling services daily, facilitate documentation between the homeowner and the servicer, and allow HAC’s three foreclosure-prevention counselors more time to provide additional counseling services, including financial management.

Tags: housing assistance corporation, Foreclosure, Housing on Cape Cod