Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Gift Cards Help Prevent Homelessness

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


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

Regional Housing Network Celebrates Allison Alewine's Housing Efforts

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 @ 09:12 AM

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Rick Presbrey (from left), Maureen Fitzgerald, Allison Alewine and Michael Sweeney at the RHN Conference.

In Allison Alewine’s home is an area she dubs her altar where she keeps items that are reminders of her purpose in life.

At the end of April, Alewine added an award to the altar that symbolizes her more than 27 years at HAC and helping those who are less fortunate. “That is where the award will be to remind me of what I’m supposed to be doing on this planet,” she said.

Her work was celebrated at the Regional Housing Network (RHN) of Massachusetts’ annual conference at the Devens Common Center where she was presented with the Judy Kelliher Award. Created in honor of Ms. Kelliher, a legislative liaison for RHN who died in July 2009, the award recognizes work being done by consumers, staff and advocates of Housing Consumer Education Centers who assist those in need by giving them the skills and training to enhance their quality of life; educate legislators and constituents on the need for affordable housing; and exhibit the determination necessary to help people turn their lives around.

Alewine was both surprised and humbled to be recognized by her peers. “It did not occur to me that I was doing anything more than the job I took on,” she said, adding that the work HAC does is important to her. “Home has always been a special passion of mine and to deal with folks who don’t even have a house, let alone a home has been what I have felt called to do.”

Her colleagues felt the honor was well-deserved given Alewine’s dedication to HAC. “It is incredibly cool,” said Liz Belcher, an intake and referral counselor at HAC. “She definitely deserves as many awards as she can get.”

While Alewine’s role in HAC has diminished – last September she retired, partially – her importance has not. She continues to work part-time for the non-profit helping raise funds for homelessness prevention through HAC’s Cape Cod Caring Cards program.

Tags: Project Prevention, Prevention, HAC, regional housing network, allison alewine

HAC Bids Farewell to Allison Alewine

Posted by Laura Reckford on Sun, Oct 20, 2013 @ 09:47 PM

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A festive retirement party was held in September for Allison Alewine, who worked at Housing Assistance Corporation for more than 25 years, most recently as vice president of operations in the Family Housing Services Department.

Allison was hired at HAC on October 5, 1987 to work in the family services department. Allison says her passion is Project Prevention, and so she will continue to work to spread the word about this important program that helps people experiencing a temporary difficulty in paying their rent or mortgage payment.

Among those attending the party at the Lighthouse Inn in Dennis were old friends and new, including people Allison worked with over the years and people she helped along the way.

The message on her cake said it all, “Congratulations Allison, Forever on the Team.”

Tags: Project Prevention, Family Shelter, Prevention, HAC, housing assistance corporation

Free Foreclosure Prevention Counseling

Posted by Laura Reckford on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Foreclosure counseling is free at Housing Assistance Corporation for anyone whose primary residence is on Cape Cod or the Islands. There are no income or mortgage limits.

HAC staffers explain mortgage options and the foreclosure process. They can then assist in preparing mortgage-modification request paperwork and submit the paperwork.

HAC can empower homeowners to speak with their lender and review the correspondence
from the lender.

HAC provides homeowners with debt-management counseling and on alternative housing options.

HAC is the only HUD-approved housing counseling agency serving Cape Cod and the Islands; and it has a contract and a close working relationship with the Attorney General’s office, plus over 15 years experience in mortgage foreclosure counseling.

When is the best time to contact HAC about counseling? If you are current with your
mortgage but are concerned that you won’t be able to keep up; or if your mortgage payment is past due.

Also contact HAC for counseling if your lender has sent a letter demanding money by a certain date or if an attorney has sent you a letter about your mortgage.

HAC is also the place to turn if you had little or no success trying to work things out with your lender.

Beware of foreclosure rescue scams. Avoid anyone asking for a fee in advance. Remember:
Friends don’t let friends pay for foreclosure prevention counseling. Refer family and friends to HAC.

To set up an appointment with a HAC counselor, call Liz Belcher at 508-771-5400 at extension
210 or by e-mail at lbelcher@haconcapecod.org.

Tags: HAC Workshops, HCEC, Prevention, housing assistance corporation, Foreclosure

Vivapalooza Winner Gives Back To NOAH Shelter

Posted by Laura Reckford on Sat, Aug 17, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Bobbie Curley of West Barnstable believes “it is important to help people get a better start” and “everybody deserves a second chance.”

That is why she decided to donate a $100 Stop and Shop gift card she won in a drawing at the Housing Assistance Corporation table at the Vivapalooza expo to the NOAH Shelter to be used to help feed people in need.

Emerald Physician’s Vivapalooza took place on Sunday, June 2, filling Barnstable High School with vendors promoting community resources for healthy living.

At HAC’s booth, staff sold Cape Cod Caring Cards, formerly known as food certs. The cards have their full cash value and can be used at many stores on the Cape. For each gift card purchased, 5 percent of the money spent benefits HAC’s Project Prevention, which provides financial assistance to prevent Cape Codders from becoming homeless. Dennis Yarmouth Ecumenical Council and Barnstable Interfaith Council sponsor the cards.

When Ms. Curley found out she won the gift card drawing, she was surprised. “I don’t usually win anything,” she said.

Then she asked, “Now, is that something you could use for clients at one of your shelters?”

Ms. Curley said she regularly buys Cape Cod Caring Cards from the Barnstable Interfaith Council at village fairs and other events.

HAC put Ms. Curley’s donation to use at the NOAH Shelter where it was used to stock up the pantry with items unavailable from the food banks.

Tags: Project Prevention, Food Certs, Prevention, housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, NOAH, Cape Cod Caring Cards, Gift Cards for prevention

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

Student Was Shaped By Family’s Hardships

Posted by Julie Wake on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

Cornell student Steven Bramwell understands the challenges faced by the homeless clients HAC serves. Steven, who spent a week at HAC as part of the Alternative Spring Break team, and his family were homeless while he was in high school.
“My father has a chronic illness, and eventually we lost our home in Ohio,” Steven said. After a series of foreclosure notices and extensions, one day there was an eviction notice. With the help of some church members, Steven’s family put their possessions into storage and moved into temporary housing, including hotels.

The toughest part was “the constant stress of not knowing where we’d be the next month,” Steven said. “That was buffered because of my faith.”

Steven, who hopes to one day earn a Ph.D. in English, said, “It shapes my life to know that I have overcome this. I see the bright side of life so well.”

About HAC's Foreclosure Prevention:

In 2008, HAC started a Foreclosure Education and Prevention Center, where our experienced staff members respond to the increased need for counseling services that can help homeowners at risk of foreclosure. As of today, HAC has helped over 3,000 households with foreclosure counseling.

HAC is the only HUD-approved housing counseling agency serving Cape Cod and the Islands. This is a free service through HAC. Beware of foreclosure rescue offers that charge you money! You qualify if your primary residence is on Cape Cod or the Islands. There are no income or mortgage limits.

Read more: http://www.haconcapecod.org/programs-and-services/foreclosure-prevention/

Tags: Cornell, Project Prevention, Prevention, housing assistance corporation, Foreclosure, Cape Cod Caring Cards

Support Housing, Homelessness and Safety Net Programs

Posted by Julie Wake on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless compiled an overview of Governor Deval Patrick’s fiscal year 2014 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth, released in late January. This $34.8 billion budget is known as the “House 1” budget (as we are in the first year of the new two-year legislative cycle), and marks the first step on the path to developing the state budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1.

As House 1 is only the first of many proposals on the way to the final FY14 budget, your voice will be critical to help protect housing, homelessness, and safety net programs for both families and individuals.

For example, the Governor’s budget would:

• Increase funding for the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program from the current FY13 appropriation level of $80.0 million to $91.7 million for FY14, leaving eligibility the same as the current standards, while decreasing funding for EA motel placements from $16.6 million to $10 million.

• Decrease funding for the HomeBASE program to $58.8 million (from $83.4 million), reflecting the upcoming “timing out” of many families in the rental assistance portion of the program. This program provides short-term transitional subsidies, diversion, and moving assistance for certain EA-eligible families.

• Fund the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program at $46.5 million, a $4.5 million increase from the FY13 allocation.   

• Provide level funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT) at $8.8 million.

• Provide $64.4 million in funding for public housing authority operating subsidies, a slight decrease from the FY13 level. In addition, the Governor has proposed far-reaching reforms for how public housing is administered.

• Create a new Housing Preservation and Stabilization Trust Fund, to be used to flexibly address unmet housing needs mainly via recaptured savings from other housing line items.

For more details on the governor’s budget, visit the coalition’s web site (http://mahomeless.org/) and click on “Advocacy.”

Take Action!

Contact the Governor’s office to thank Governor Patrick for his proposals to maintain investments/reinvest in the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, and state-funded public housing, and for protecting many of the core cash assistance and support programs serving families and individuals who are at-risk or experiencing homelessness. The Governor’s office can be reached at 617-725-4005 or 888-870-7770.

Contact your State Representative and State Senator to ask for their support for the Coalition’s budget priorities, in particular:

• Expand the safety net of shelter for families by capturing those families at imminent risk of having to stay in places not meant for human habitation and other families facing dangerous situations

•Increasing the investment in affordable housing programs: HomeBASE, MRVP, and public housing  

• Maintaining the investment in the RAFT homelessness prevention program

• Protecting the EAEDC and TAFDC cash assistance programs

• Reimbursing cities and towns for the transportation of children and youth experiencing homelessness back to their schools of origin

State Representatives and Senators can be reached through the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.


Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Prevention, Govenor's Budget, housing assistance corporation

Prevention: A Better Solution to Housing the Homeless

Posted by Julie Wake on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 @ 07:00 AM
Faith toy B&W resized 600Massachusetts will phase out a program that places homeless families in hotels and motels at taxpayer expense when there is no room in emergency shelters. Statewide there were 1,700 families in hotels last month – a practice that is not followed on Cape Cod.

HAC does not house families in local motels because the regional network of shelter providers have, so far, had the capacity to meet the demand, according to Allison Alewine, vice president of program operations for HAC. Part of the reason why HAC has been able to keep homeless families out of hotels is Project Prevention.

Developed in 1993, Project Prevention stops homelessness in its tracks by preventing it from happening in the first place. It is also a program that saves money – family homelessness costs the taxpayer more than five times the cost of prevention ($10,000 as opposed to about $1,500).

Last year, 1,300 new families and 2,500 new individuals contacted us for help because their housing was at risk. HAC responds to the complexities of each case through referrals inside and outside of HAC, informal mediation with a landlord, referrals to community resources for money, in addition to small, tightly controlled HAC-generated grants. As it stands, we can only help about 1/3 of the families and 1/10 of the individuals who contact us, entirely due to a lack of financial resources. This is a tsunami of need which crashes over onto the greater community. To contribute to Project Prevention is an opportunity to assist virtually every other human-services institution on Cape Cod and the Islands.

“Motels provide a roof over the head but little else,” said an editorial in the Enterprise newspapers. “There are no cooking facilities, there is no place for children to play and in some cases visitors are not allowed. They are far from an ideal solution. … The better solution is to keep families in their homes to begin with. It can be done with less money than the state pays for motel rooms and, better yet, it makes for healthier families. Homeless prevention is where the state should put its money.”

Much of the funding for Project Prevention comes from the Barnstable Interfaith Council and the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Homeless.

DYECH and BIC support Project Prevention through the sale of grocery and other gift cards. When you purchase gift cards through this program, merchants give a percentage of the sale (usually 4 to 8 percent, but in some cases as much as 18 percent) to homelessness prevention. For example, if you buy a $100 gift card for Stop & Shop, your gift card is worth the full $100 – but Stop & Shop donates 5 percent ($5) to Project Prevention.

You can buy grocery gift cards at HAC’s main office at 460 West Main Street, Hyannis. For more information on other locations where they can be purchased, click the “donate” link on HAC’s website, www.HAConCapeCod.org.

To purchase other gift cards, go to www.shopwithscrip.com. The enrollment code to help DYECH and HAC is 561B698219989.

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Project Prevention, Food Certs, Prevention

Editorial: A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out

Posted by Julie Wake on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 @ 07:50 AM
describe the imageAs the CEO of an organization that manages a variety of different programs, all of which help people in need of a decent home, I am always looking for ways to be more effective. Often I, we, have a pretty good idea of how to improve what we do, but more often than not it takes money. So, we raise money the best we can.

Two areas where we would like to improve what we do are sheltering families and sheltering individuals. We do the sheltering part pretty well. All of our shelters are carefully managed to create as safe and healthy an environment as possible. We have a pretty good track record in that respect.

We also have a very good record of getting people into housing. Of course, the more resources we have the more people get placed. At times in the past we have had almost adequate money to house a large proportion of families in need, but we have never had much to house homeless individuals. These days we have less money to house either population, families or individuals.

Besides more money for housing, which we are working on, we’d like to be able to find funds to create and manage programmatic activities that make stays in shelter more valuable for both populations. Individuals often need detox, health services and mental health services. Families frequently need the same. What both populations need is pre-employment training. In today’s world, unless you have a serious and verifiable disability, you need to work to support yourself. Most of the people we serve are not personally equipped to obtain and maintain a job that pays that much. A well-organized curriculum of personal self-management and pre-employment training, as well as some funding and staffing to supervise internships, might well make the difference many need.

People, in my experience, want to work, to support themselves and have productive lives. Circumstances have been cruel and unforgiving to them, and they need kindness, patience and a hand up.

We are determined to develop and implement such a plan.

Tags: Homeless, HACbeat, Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Prevention, Rick Presbrey