Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Editorial: Threats to HCEC Funding

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 @ 11:02 AM

Galazzi_HACbeat (2017).jpg

Since I arrived at HAC in January, I have been struck by the number of people that our agency is able to help on a daily basis. Last year alone we provided over 5,600 clients with the housing services they needed to move forward with their lives in a positive direction.

Of that number, more than 1,200 people were served through our Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC). HAC’s HCEC is one of only nine in Massachusetts, and the only one that exists for those on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Due to recent budget cuts made by Governor Charlie Baker, these nine HCECs are being threatened, which will directly impact a large number of clients we serve at HAC. These are our neighbors - teachers, plumbers, electricians, firefighters, waiters, certified nursing assistants and more - who need help, support and housing stability to remain here on Cape Cod.

At HAC, our HCEC conducts client intake, determining whether there is an internal HAC program that can assist them or we need to refer them to an outside agency. Our HCEC also assists clients with housing search, working with them to find safe, secure housing in the region; provides foreclosure and reverse mortgage counseling; and offers financial literacy workshops for low- and middle-income residents.

Maureen Fitzgerald, executive director of the Regional Housing Network, which is made up of the nine HCECs throughout the state, recently wrote that, “the HCECs continue to be one of the Commonwealth’s most effective, impactful, and far-reaching housing and homelessness prevention programs. In an environment where resources are so narrowly targeted, the Centers fill in the gaps, ensuring that the right people get to the right resources at the right time.”

The statement was made as part of a letter written in light of Governor Baker’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget which had $320 million worth of vetoes, including a $600,000 reduction in funding for HCECs statewide. This will negatively affect agencies like HAC’s HCEC which is working with individuals and families at risk of homelessness, facing eviction, and seeking to find affordable rentals.

Because of this threat, I have spent time at the State House in Boston this month, meeting with our legislators to urge them to restore both the $800,000 vetoed in Line Item 7006-0011 and the language directing support to the state’s HCECs. We must ensure that the proper state funding is in place so agencies like HAC can continue to serve these clients in an effective and efficient manner.

Tags: HCEC, Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, State budget, housing consumer education, Alisa Galazzi, Governor Charlie Baker

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

HAC Stresses Need for State Funding of Vital Programs

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 @ 01:26 PM
RHN Edited Photo.jpgHAC's Cassi Danzl (from left), Liz Belcher, CEO Alisa Galazzi and Laura Reckford with State Representative Will Crocker. 

HAC’s leadership visited the State House last month, pushing for funding of programs that help those most in need on Cape Cod and the Islands.

The HAC contingent was there as part of the annual Regional Housing Network (RHN) of Massachusetts’ legislative briefing, a day that gives member agencies of the housing network an opportunity to meet with their legislative delegation to discuss the needs and priorities of those they serve.

HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi was joined by her colleagues Cassi Danzl, Liz Belcher, Laura Reckford and Noah Hoffenberg, in driving up to Boston, where they were able to meet with State Representatives Will Crocker (R-Centerville) and Dylan Fernandes (D-Woods Hole) as well as State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) in offering their insights into the housing needs of those on Cape Cod and the Islands.

The group urged continued support of the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and HomeBASE programs, which provide assistance to those experiencing a housing crisis. Last year, HAC was able to serve 279 families and 134 individuals who were in crisis and in danger of becoming homeless.

HAC staffers also placed an emphasis on funding Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCEC). HAC is one of nine HCECs throughout Massachusetts that conducts intake, housing search, foreclosure and reverse mortgage counseling, and financial literacy workshops for low- and middle-income residents in the region. In 2016, HAC’s HCEC served more than 3,700 people.

Last month’s meetings took place as the state House and Senate begin deliberations over Governor Charles D. Baker’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Tags: HCEC, HomeBASE, Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, housing consumer education, Alisa Galazzi, RAFT, Residential Assistance For Families in Transition

Eleven Members, One Strong Team

Posted by Julie Wake on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

rick maureen 004Having recently completed my first year, of two years, as president of the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, I thought I might provide an update of what we are doing. First, the RHN has two full-time staff in Boston and represents 11 agencies, covering all corners of the state. All of the agencies, as the name suggests, have major activities in the affordable housing area. Not all the agencies are exclusively involved in housing.

The executive director of the RHN is Maureen Fitzgerald who, being located in Boston, is able to participate in the activities of many housing-related organizations that meet to plan and exchange ideas in Boston. The Network office also provides a meeting place in Boston and a place to stop and use the phone or work in between appointments or meetings. The work of the organization can be almost summed up with the following three activities: program development, relationship building and funding.

The RHN has various subcommittees, including an executive committee, a finance committee, and committees on rental assistance, housing consumer education (co-chaired by Cheryl Kramer of HAC), legislative outeach and family self-sufficiency, as well as the newly forming housing development committee. Each committee is chaired or co-chaired by a member of the board. Each of the 11 member agencies has two voting seats on the board. For HAC, I am one and Cindi Maule, director of the leased housing department, is the other.

During the past year RHN has worked on a lot of things. The major activities have been correcting a cash-flow deficit in RHN’s budget and working closely with the Mass. Department of Housing and Community Development in developing and improving the HomeBase program, which aims to help all of the approximately 1,700 families in motels across the state being paid for by DHCD to secure decent, stable and affordable housing. We also have been working with the community action committees to help design and fund a statewide case-management system for households coming out of motels. Members are continually updating public policy and advocacy goals and carrying them out. We hold an annual legislative day and a major housing conference generally every other year.

This past year the agencies that manage a Section 8 program all worked hard to respond to a request for proposals to continue operating this program. Because there are nearly 20,000 units in the RHN agencies’ portfolio, a lot of time was spent developing statewide consistency in employing best practices, including plans to improve our statewide technical capacities. Sharing skills, resources, ideas, staff and time are valued in all areas, but never more than when planning the improvement of a major statewide program such as section 8, which is administered by a majority of the members of the group.

My year wasn’t what I hoped it would be. With so many capable people directing agencies in the network and with so much going on at HAC, I opted out of more Boston-based meetings than I had expected. This year, though, I hope to attend the board meetings of a majority of the RHN members to let them know how RHN is helping their agencies.

 

Tags: Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, housing assistance corporation, Rick Presbrey