Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Ms. Galazzi Goes to Washington

Posted by Laura Reckford on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 @ 05:41 PM
RHN working with Rep. Keating-1.jpgHAC CEO Alisa Galazzi (third from left) sits with members of the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts during their meeting with Congressman Bill Keating in his Washington, D.C. office. 

Last month, HAC’s CEO Alisa Galazzi and Director of Community Relations Laura Reckford journeyed to Washington, D.C. with members of the Regional Housing Network (RHN) of Massachusetts. The purpose of the trip was to explain the importance of the Section 8 voucher program to the Massachusetts congressional delegation.

The RHN contingent had face-to-face meetings with Congressman Bill Keating and Senator Ed Markey. In addition, they made presentations to the congressional appropriations committee staff.

The Section 8 program is supported by funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). President Donald Trump has proposed steep cuts—at least $7 billion—to affordable housing, community development and social service programs supported by funds that flow from HUD to communities across the country.

These cuts will have a detrimental impact to the 1,250 clients that HAC serves on Cape Cod and the Islands who receive Section 8 and other rental housing vouchers. And the cuts would have a ripple effect on the region’s economy.

The cuts would affect the economy in several ways. First, the Section 8 program alone brings $750,000 per month to the local economy in payments to Cape Cod landlords. Across the Commonwealth, almost $20 million per month goes into the local economy through the Section 8 program.

Second, without this rental assistance, working families would not be able to afford their apartments and could be forced into shelter. The nightly cost of sheltering a family—estimated at roughly $100 per night—is much steeper than the approximately $900 per month cost of rental assistance that keeps a family in their home. Last year, HAC housed 175 families, including 195 children, in our four family shelter programs. Being in shelter stresses a family in several ways, especially with children whose schooling can be disrupted.

Another economic cost is the ripple effect to the region. When workers lose their home, it becomes almost impossible for them to hold down a job. Severe cuts to the Section 8 program would undoubtedly have impacts on local employment numbers and other economic indicators.

Tags: Section 8, Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, homeless shelters, MA Rental Voucher Program, HUD, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Alisa Galazzi, Laura Reckford, Bill Keating

Cindi Maule Honored

Posted by Laura Reckford on Sat, Oct 19, 2013 @ 10:26 PM

40 under 40 cyndi2

Housing Assistance Corporation’s Cindi Maule was selected in Cape & Plymouth Business’s 40 Under 40 award program for business people under the age of 40 have made a mark in our region.

Cindi, who has been at HAC since 2008, manages a staff of 10 and an $8 million program that administers six federal and state rental subsidy contracts comprising over 900 vouchers.

She has recently been promoted to director of Leased Housing and Family.Services at HAC. The 40 Under 40 awards were given out June 19 at the CapeCodder Resort & Spa in Hyannis.

Tags: Family Shelter, HAC, MA Rental Voucher Program

Editorial: What Sequester? Here's What.

Posted by Laura Reckford on Mon, Aug 12, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

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By Rick Presbrey

Many will say, “so what is the big deal with the federal sequester?’ It hasn’t made any difference to me!”

We work hard at HAC to carefully manage our financial resources and to balance our budget each year. Each year we make our best estimate of what we expect our agency
income will be for the next twelve months and then adjust, or try to, our
expenses for the year. Our budget year begins on July 1.

This past year, beginning in January of 2013 we eliminated over $500,000 in salaries in
anticipation of what we were seeing happening in the current year and expected
to happen in the coming year. Not fun.

The federal sequester has been hanging over our heads and we recently got the news that our
Section 8 administrative reimbursement would be cut about 15% for the year and
that the payment to property owners would be reduced by 6%.  We pay property owners each month the difference between what the tenant pays ($30% of their income) and the total
rent. The average annual income for a person receiving Section 8 assistance is
$15,700 per year. A typical property owner receives about $830 per month from
us under the program. About 7% of the people leave the program each year but
our reductions are in addition to that.

Since we receive our federal funding for this program through the state which operates
the program statewide, how we reduce the cost of our payments to property
owners is their decision and they have been discussing it with us.

One way is to reduce the rent payments to property owners; the other way is to increase
what tenants pay towards the rent. Some of the units rented are in projects
financed with the help of the state. Cutting rents to property owners would
likely mean that some or many might leave the program causing the tenants to
lose their housing. If rents were reduced in state aided developments the
budgets in those developments would go out of balance.

So guess what: it looks like the decision will be to raise the amount that tenants have
to pay. Maybe we should call it “less affordable” housing. The problem is, of
course, that those who will pay more as a result of the sequester, in this
case, are the ones who can least afford it.  And the ones that have the least voice in our
system.  So their suffering will go
unrecognized. 

And next year, and for the next nine years, there will be equivalent additional
reductions each year making whatever is cut less sustainable.

As administration is cut, agencies like ours will do a poorer and poorer job
keeping track of the quality of the units rented, the punctuality of paperwork,
the rechecking of calculations to determine rents, etc. and there will be the
ensuing scandals about how bad the program is being run and how the government
can’t do anything well.

And tenants will gradually pay a larger and larger share of their meager income with more
evictions for nonpayment, more credit card debt, more unpaid utility, health
care and car repair bills and on and on all in the name of the sequester where
the wealthiest are hurt least.

And when we figure out what happened, if we ever do in our world of conflicting opinions,
the damage will have been done.

Tags: housing, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, HAC, housing assistance corporation, MA Rental Voucher Program

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

State Supports HAC's Rental Efforts

Posted by Julie Wake on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 @ 09:00 AM
As part of an effort to create 1,000 additional units of permanent, supportive housing through the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, six vouchers for the scattered site family homelessness program were awarded to HAC.

HAC owns 40 apartment units. HAC’s six new vouchers will be used to house families who are formerly homeless or at risk of homelessness and cannot afford market-rate rents.

“With these vouchers, we can rent apartments to some people who are most in need,” said Gisele Gauthier, director of HAC’s housing development department. “This provides people with housing stability, regardless of their income.”

The state funding includes case-management support, which will enhance the stability of the tenants’ housing.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Family Self Sufficientcy, housing assistance corporation, MA Rental Voucher Program