Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Cape Advocacy Training Inspires Public to Get Involved Locally

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Mar 09, 2018 @ 02:48 PM
Housing Advocacy3-1.jpgHAC Board President Mark Forest (from left), Barnstable Town Councilor Paula Schnepp, and Barnstable Housing Committee member Hilda Haye lead a Cape Housing Advocacy Training session last month. 

Just how bad is the housing situation on Cape Cod and the Islands? Yarmouth Selectman Mark Forest, the chair of HAC’s Board of Directors, termed it a crisis. Forest spoke during Cape Housing Advocacy Training held at Shepley Showcase in Hyannis last month.

Solving that crisis, he said, cannot be done at the federal or state level. “It really today is coming to be a local issue,” he told those in attendance. “We have to deal with this on our watch. And if we don’t, the Cape is going to continue to change in ways that are incredibly dramatic and it will be unlike the kind of Cape Cod that we have grown quite fond of.”

Since last year, HAC has worked with Community Development Partnership (CDP) in Eastham to support communities throughout the Cape in addressing their housing challenges. It started last fall with the Cape Housing Institute, aimed at municipal officials, and expanded last month to Cape Housing Advocacy Training, aimed at the general public.

With workshops so far held on the Mid-Cape, Lower Cape and Outer Cape, advocacy training has been geared to giving residents the tools, resources, support and motivation to speak up in favor of affordable housing projects in their towns. A total of 70 residents have taken part in the sessions with another 40 set to do so on the Upper Cape in Falmouth this month.

Housing Advocacy3-2.jpgBarnstable Housing Committee member Hilda Haye encourage participants in HAC's Cape Housing Advocacy Training to be more active in their community. 

The Mid-Cape workshop began with Paula Hersey, the director of outreach and special projects at Cape Cod Community Media Center, sharing her story about struggling to find housing with her husband in the late 1980s. “We lived above a heroin dealer,” she said. “We moved six times in three years… We ate a lot of Ramen, couch surfed, and lived in unfinished basements. It has not been easy.”

Eventually, they were able to find a place, becoming one of the first homeowners in a Chapter 40B development in Marstons Mills. By telling her story, Hersey said, she hoped to “remove the stigma associated” with affordable housing.

A significant piece of advocacy training was focused on just that – getting residents to speak up at public meetings about why affordable housing is important to them.

Barnstable Town Councilor Paula Schnepp, another speaker, said doing so can make a difference. “It really is helpful that your voice is heard,” she said.

Barnstable Housing Committee member Hilda Haye, also a speaker at the training, said, “it is time for us all to get involved… This is our community that we live in and we need to do something… We all need to play our part.” It is this type of activism that Mark Forest said can make a real difference when it comes to affordable housing. “The reality is that what we do in our towns… is critical in terms of making any real progress,” he said.

To stay up to date on upcoming Cape Housing Advocacy Training sessions, click this link


Tags: Shepley Wood Products, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, affordable housing, Mark Forest, Cape Housing Institute, Community Development Partnership, Cape Community Housing Partnership, Paula Schnepp, Advocacy Training, Hilda Haye, Cape Housing Advocacy Training

Peter Muise and Cliff Carroll Join HAC Board

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, May 19, 2017 @ 11:11 AM
Peter and Clifford HAC Board-1.jpgPeter Muise (left) and Cliff Carroll were voted onto HAC's board at the agency's Annual Meeting in March. 

At the end of March, HAC welcomed two new board members – Peter Muise of Marion, and Cliff Carroll of West Barnstable – with a keen understanding of the housing challenges facing the region and a passion for helping solve them.

The pair were voted onto the board at HAC’s 43rd Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition. That same night, Mark Forest of Yarmouth was named board chair, succeeding David Augustinho, who had served in that capacity since April 2014.

Both Muise and Carroll were eager to use their expertise to bolster HAC’s mission to ensure all on Cape Cod and the Islands have access to safe, secure, decent housing.

“I believe it is important to give back to our community,” said Carroll, a senior mortgage lender for Residential Mortgage Services of Hyannis. “I’m hoping that my experience can help HAC succeed in its mission of keeping Cape Cod homeownership affordable to our friends, family and neighbors for generations to come.”

As a lifelong resident of Cape Cod with 37 years of experience as a mortgage banker and real estate developer, he expressed concern about the lack of affordable housing that is making it difficult for year-round residents to remain here.

Muise brings both a 40-year career in the banking industry – since 2008 he has served as the president and CEO of First Citizens’ Federal Credit Union – and a long history of volunteerism to HAC. He has served on the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board, on the executive committee board for the Homeless Service Provider Network in New Bedford, and as the co-chair of the South Coast Regional Network to End Homelessness.

His commitment to community service has earned him multiple honors, including the 2015 Sister Rose Award from the City of New Bedford, The Standard-Times 2013 SouthCoast Man of the Year, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees in 2004.

“I have a fairly long and compassionate history of working with social service organizations and agencies that concentrate on combating homelessness, both in preventative and supportive roles,” Muise said. “HAC has an extremely positive and dominant presence on Cape Cod in the exact same service space. My belief is that through cooperation and collaboration amongst the many organizations and agencies working in this social service area, and leveraging each participant’s expertise, more clients can be helped in a more efficient and financially effective manner.”

Tags: HAC Executive Board, Peter Muise, Cliff Carroll, Mark Forest