Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Editorial: Celebrating 45 Years of Building Communities

Posted by Alisa Galazzi on Tue, Mar 05, 2019 @ 04:28 PM

45th color logo

We have an exciting year ahead of us as we celebrate our 45 years of service. Over the years Housing Assistance has saved lives through our homeless shelter work; changed lives through our education and foreclosure counseling efforts; stabilized lives with our leased housing vouchers and weatherization; and launched dreams through our affordable sales and construction projects. We could not have achieved such success without your support. 

Now is the time for us to stand up again and lead the community to make strategic investments in our region’s infrastructure through the short-term rental tax revenue. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set aside money to pay for big ticket items that property owners alone would have to foot the bill for otherwise. Together we can ensure that Cape Cod has a vibrant year-round community and remains a destination to visit. Now is the time to say yes to housing so we can preserve and protect our way of life on Cape Cod. For more information go to www.futurecapecod.org

I invite each of us to step up and get involved in not only helping to create housing opportunities for our year-round community but also advocating for town leadership to make investments with the new occupancy tax law. We also have work to do to change outdated and restrictive zoning that has added to the shortage of housing in our region. If we provide enough attainable housing for the people who work here so they can live here, then our local economy will become stronger and our community will continue to thrive. Housing is the linchpin that makes our economy and community work.

In the years to come, you can count on Housing Assistance to continue to provide a safety net for the homeless and people living one or two paychecks away from homelessness. And you can look to us for leadership in expanding housing options for people of all income levels. 

We invite you to attend our special 45th Anniversary Celebration on May 8th, become a housing advocate, or volunteer. If you own a seasonal rental, contact us about our Rent 365 program which offers a $1,000 incentive for homeowners who convert to year-round leases, and also provides additional landlord support. 

Please join us in creating a better tomorrow for our neighbors and our communities.  

 CELEBRATE OUR 45TH ANNIVERSARY

Join us on Wednesday, May 8 at the Cape Cinema and Cape Cod Museum of Art as we come together to celebrate 45 years of building strong communities on Cape Cod and the Islands. 

Click this link to purchase tickets as we work together to create a better tomorrow for all in our region. 

Interested in becoming a sponsor? Click the button below to get started!

Sponsor the 45th Anniversary Celebration

 

Tags: homelessness prevention, shelter, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Weatherization, Alisa Galazzi, rental housing, foreclosure prevention, Rent 365, HAC 45th Anniversary, Future Cape Cod, occupancy tax law

Donor Spotlight: Michael and Area Princi

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 25, 2019 @ 05:09 PM

Michael and Area Princi-1

Michael and Area Princi at HAC's Annual Meeting in 2017. The pair have been longtime supporters of our work, organizing a Gift Basket Party for clients in shelter during the holiday season. 

This year, HAC is celebrating its 45th anniversary and for 41 of those years, Michael Princi of Marstons Mills has supported the agency in its work to ensure all on Cape Cod and the Islands have access to safe, secure housing. 

An attorney and senior partner in the law firm of Wynn & Wynn in Hyannis, Princi’s initial involvement with HAC was focused on his profession. “I started to do some legal work, most of it on a pro bono basis,” he said.

Princi assisted HAC in large ways by helping move housing development projects forward through the legal process and in smaller, day-to-day matters, including internal, regulatory, landlord-tenant, and lease issues.

For Michael and his wife Area, giving back to HAC is rooted in their identity and has extended to serving meals to the homeless and collecting gifts for homeless families during the holidays.

Their efforts are tied to the belief that everyone deserves a home. “In order for people to move forward in their lives, the most important thing we can give them is a roof over their head,” Michael said. “Many people on the Cape did not have that available to them before Housing Assistance came along.”

That basic concept, he said, was something that “I identified with, in terms of wanting to give my time and efforts to.”

While housing is HAC’s primary goal, Michael noted that over the years its work has expanded to empowering families and individuals through such programs as its financial literacy classes which help clients maintain their housing through budgeting and improving their credit.

As HAC’s services have grown in size and scope, Michael is proud to have been affiliated with an agency that has helped so many over the years. “I feel like I’ve been part of the fabric, I’ve been with HAC so long,” he said. “A number of people and companies have been so supportive of HAC because they genuinely feel what Housing Assistance Corporation does is of tremendous importance to our community.”

Why We Give: Michael and Area Princi

At the beginning of last month, Michael and Area Princi organized their 28th Annual Holiday Gift Basket Drive, collecting presents that went to 50 families in HAC’s four family shelters – Angel House in Hyannis; Carriage House in Falmouth; Scattered Sites in Hyannis; and the Village at Cataumet in Bourne.

It’s a tradition that began with Michael and his first wife who passed away shortly after establishing the event. “The boys and I wanted to continue that tradition very much in memory of her,” said Michael. “When I remarried two years later, Area and her family blended into mine and we’ve expanded on it and continued it together for the past 26 years.”

With their children, Patrick, Peter, and Brendan, the Princis have been able to build a holiday drive that went beyond the confines of their home and now extends to their family, friends, and colleagues. “At the highest point, we did about 70 families and a number of homeless individuals,” Michael said.

While participation ebbs and flows, Michael said, “every year we manage to get 45 to 50 families allocated out so they all get Christmas baskets.”

Admittedly, it is a lot of work to organize the annual event, requiring the help of HAC staff as well as Michael’s legal assistant, Aimee Uhlman.

All of that effort is worth it for the Princis as they know those receiving gifts would have little to nothing to open on Christmas morning. “We play Santa for people who otherwise don’t have much or anything at all under their trees,” Michael said. “For many of the people who participate, the idea of anonymous giving is important to them… They are doing it truly out of the kindness of their hearts because they know there is a need and they are fulfilling that need.”

Donate Today

 

Tags: Family Shelter, Michael Princi, Holiday Drive, shelter, Area Princi, charitable giving, holiday giving

New Director Brings Expertise and Passion to Carriage House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 @ 05:40 PM
Mindy Caron-1.jpgMindy Caron in front of HAC's Carriage House family shelter in North Falmouth. 

I love the opportunity to help as many people as possible turn their lives around,” Mindy Caron said last month at HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth. Caron is helping HAC’s clients do exactly that as Carriage House’s new facility director.

Caron, who was hired at HAC two years ago, initially served as the family therapist at Angel House in Hyannis, which supports mothers overcoming addiction and their children. Last fall, she transferred to HAC’s main office where she assisted the agency in redesigning its intake and referral process.

At the end of January, she was promoted to her current position at Carriage House, which assists mothers and their children. The shelter, which typically caters to younger, first-time mothers, has the capacity to house 10 families at any one time.

While the primary goal at Carriage House is to provide housing to keep families safe, Caron said, the shelter supports each mother by giving them the tools, resources and support so they will hopefully never have to return to shelter again.

Her aim with each client is to get them to establish a goal and have them take steps to achieve it. “People who come here have come out of such a crisis that they have often never stopped to question, ‘What do I really want? Where do I want to be in this world?’” Caron said. “We begin asking these questions so these women have a dream because that is the most motivating thing they can have.”

Carriage House offers a number of services that allow clients to work towards such goals. It starts with hands-on case management, Caron said, but also includes assisting with resume writing and accessing jobs; improving their parenting skills; budgeting; and finding housing.

Through its Playspace Program, Horizons for Homeless Children offers playtime opportunities for the younger ones at Carriage House.

Caron, who moved to Cape Cod from Indiana three years ago to be closer to family, was pleased to have found an agency like HAC where she can use her previous social service expertise as a counselor, executive director, and chief operations officer, to benefit our clients. “I love it here, I really do,” she said. “I consider HAC to be a fine organization with stellar goals which are really, really needed on the Cape.”

Support HAC's Family Shelters

Tags: Family Shelter, Carriage House, Angel House, shelter, Horizons for Homeless Children, Falmouth, Mindy Caron

St. Pius Students Knit Blankets for HAC Clients

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Wed, Feb 21, 2018 @ 02:23 PM
St. Pius Martin Family.jpgHAC's Mary LeClair (from left) with Maeve, Effie and Beatrice Martin. Maeve and her fellow St. Pius X classmates knit over 60 blankets for our clients in need. 

Every November, middle school students at St. Pius X School in Yarmouth try to better understand the plight of the homeless by spending a portion of one evening inside cardboard boxes set up in the gym.

This year, roughly 40 students turned that understanding into action by also knitting over 60 homemade blankets that will be given to HAC clients in shelter. Last month, St. Pius X eighth grader Maeve Martin, 13, dropped off those blankets with her mother, Katie Martin, and her two sisters Effie, 11, and Beatrice, 5.

“I like that we were able to do something nice for others,” Maeve said.

Her mother said the school project was rewarding because it taught children the importance of helping others. “It’s amazing how happy the kids felt helping someone else and stepping outside of themselves,” she said.

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, Family Shelter, homelessness, shelter, St. Pius X School, Mary LeClair, blankets

Cape Family Goes From Homelessness to Housing

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Mar 02, 2017 @ 04:09 PM
HAC Richard Photo.jpgLast month, HAC's Al DiMuzio (right) donated a recliner to Richard as a way to provide stability to his living situation. 

On the first day of the new year, 57-year-old Richard and his two teenage boys became homeless. “That’s when I had to make the choice of living in our car or in a motel room,” he said. “It was so unbearable, especially with the children. It was very stressful.”

The slide into homelessness was relatively sudden for Richard, who had lived in Bourne for over 44 years. It started with the death of his 84-year-old mother Jean in October. He and his children had moved in with her several years ago and he was serving as her caretaker.

“It was devastating,” he said, noting it was particularly difficult for his children who had already lost their own mother. “When she [their grandmother] passed, they were very sad. Very sad. She had been like their mother in a way.”

His mother’s death was compounded by the fact that she had taken out a reverse mortgage on her house. Richard, who is on disability, was unable to pay back the loan so the bank seized the home.

“So we became homeless,” Richard said.

Nearly all of their belongings were gone. Richard was able to keep some family photos and personal keepsakes as well as his father’s military records and medals.

They even had to temporarily relinquish their boxer Bruno who had been a part of their family for nearly seven years, letting a friend take him in. Through the entire ordeal, Richard said, his children were most worried about their dog. “They have known him since they were little kids,” he said.

Initially, the family stayed a few nights in a motel before Richard quickly ran out of money. With the assistance of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, they were placed in a shelter in Fall River. Though he was appreciative of having a safe place to sleep, Richard admitted that, “it wasn’t the same as living in our own house.”

Family Transitions Out of Shelter

In February, Richard was able to transition out of shelter and into a rental house in Bourne. He was connected to HAC and has been working with Housing Specialist AnnMarie Torrey who helped secure him $8,000 in HomeBASE funds through the state. Those funds are given to families in shelter or to families who are at imminent risk of homelessness as a way to stabilize their housing.

Roughly half of that has gone to pay his first and last month’s rent as well as the security deposit. The remainder will be used to pay a portion of his monthly rent as Richard’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will cover the rest. It leaves the family, Torrey said, in a tenuous financial position as he will have little additional money to spend on food and other necessities each month.

Thanks to HAC’s Welcome Home Gift Basket Program (see page 7), Torrey was able to provide him with basic household necessities such as bed sheets and kitchen appliances. HAC staff have done their part with Quality Control Inspector Jim Ames donating a used couch and Al DiMuzio, director of the agency’s Energy and Repair Department, a used recliner to help furnish the family’s home. “I have always found that helping is better than not, and sometimes synchronicity works in strange ways,” DiMuzio said. “So, for Richard, his need for a chair just happened to fit my desire to do a little downsizing.”

Torrey is working with him to find a part-time job that can increase his income to add even more security to his housing situation.

All of this has Richard feeling grateful for HAC’s support. “They have been indispensable,” he said. “If HAC didn’t help, I don’t know where we would be right now.”

Torrey is hopeful that Richard and his family will never have to experience the horrors of homelessness again. “Being in shelter really scared him and the boys,” she said. “He told me he is determined that he will never be in that position again and that is pretty much 90% of it – determination and having the will to succeed.”

Help End Homelessness

Tags: housing, AnnMarie Torrey, HomeBASE, Family Shelter, homelessness, shelter

Village at Cataumet Volunteers Exemplify Dedication

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 @ 08:50 AM
DSC 7118 resized 600Falmouth's Betty Bailey (from left), Robert McIntire, Nancy Ledger and Tanya White at a meal they prepared and served at The Village at Cataumet in December.

Webster’s Dictionary may have its own definition of dedication, but at HAC it’s exemplified in volunteers like Dr. Robert McIntire of Falmouth.

Over the past decade, Dr. McIntire and several other members of the John Wesley United Methodist Church in Falmouth, have devoted one night every month to cooking meals for clients at The Village at Cataumet.

“It is nice to reach out and be able to meet these folks and hopefully bring a smile to their face,” said Nancy Ledger of Falmouth. “It means a lot to us and hopefully it means a lot to them.”

In December, Ledger joined Dr. McIntire, Tanya White and Betty Bailey, all of Falmouth, in making a meal of chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes, corn and apple crisp for shelter clients. Because it was the week before Christmas, the group also gave each client a small gift package that included candies and a Walmart gift card.

As Dr. McIntire handed out the packages, one client responded, “This is wonderful. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.”

DSC 7124 resized 600

Having a chance to meet and interact with those staying at the shelter, Dr. McIntire said, has been the most rewarding aspect of his time spent volunteering at HAC. While all are grateful for the help they are given, he said, “It is pretty tough for small families having to live in a small hotel room, especially when you have two adults and two children. It’s not a holiday.”

“It is difficult,” said Brianne Gonzalez, who has been at the shelter with one of her two children since the middle of October. “I would probably say living so close to other people is the most difficult thing. And having to share things; you normally would have your own kitchen.”

“I’d rather have my own place,” said Richelle Green, a client who lives with her boyfriend Perikles (Perry) Karakostas. The two will be having a baby boy, due in April.

As the couple enjoyed the December meal cooked by relative strangers, Perry praised the group’s generosity. “They are saints,” he said. “It is so good to see nice people with everything that is going on in the world.”

This meal represented one of the few gifts he would receive this season. “Being in the situation we are in, it is hard to focus on the holidays,” he admitted.

It is why, Ledger said, the best part of their volunteer work is when the shelter’s clients are finally able to have a place to call home. “It is always sad to see young families who are homeless. It is tragic, especially at this time of year,” she said. “That is why you are so happy when you come here and they are gone because they have gone on to their own place.”

Tags: volunteers, Robert McIntire, nancy ledger, HAC, Village at Cataumet, volunteering, shelter

11th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon a Success

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 @ 03:07 PM
DSC 1196 resized 600WCAI's Sean Corcoran sings "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with several students from the Nathaniel H. Wixon Innovation School.

During the first hour of the 11th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, State Representative Timothy Madden made his way onto the festively decorated set at the Cape Cod Community Media Center and spoke with hosts Mindy Todd and Sarah Colvin about the homeless situation on Cape Cod.

“This is our community and people have to step up now and contribute,” he said. “We can’t continue to live in a place like Cape Cod and have people who are homeless.”

The sad reality is that there are homeless people on Cape Cod and the telethon raises funds that go directly to HAC’s four shelters which serve that vulnerable population. In December more than $90,000 was raised during the five-hour live event to help support the programs and services at the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis, Angel House in Hyannis, Carriage House in North Falmouth and The Village at Cataumet in Bourne.

That money ranged from small $10 and $15 donations from individuals to large ones like a $5,000 check from Heroes in Transition that the Mashpee nonprofit’s co-founders, Cynthia and Kenneth Jones, and one of its directors, Roberta Cannon, presented to HAC on air.

Each donation represented one small step towards giving HAC clients a better life through programs intended to not only provide them with the basic essentials – food and housing – but the tools and confidence to become self-sufficient. Paul Melville, a consultant who runs a parenting group for fathers living at The Village at Cataumet, spoke about his experience working with clients and the benefits his program has brought to them. “They talk about parenting tips and their successes and we talk about their hopes and dreams,” Melville said.

And while he has never been homeless, he said, he has lived in subsidized housing, allowing him a chance to relate to what the parents he works with at the shelter are going through. “I remember thinking [when I was in subsidized housing] this isn’t where or how I wanted to raise my children,” Melville said. “I get them to open up and to realize this isn’t long term.”

If anything, the telethon was an indication of the help, and hope, that the community provides to HAC’s clients. This year’s event saw over 75 sponsors, ranging from Comcast to Clancy’s Tavern in Dennis Port to Hyannis Toyota to Cape Associates in Yarmouth Port to Falmouth Lumber, as well as roughly 170 volunteers that called friends and family throughout the evening asking them to donate to the telethon.

DSC 0920 resized 600Volunteers from Shepley Wood Products were in the holiday spirit.

A team of phone volunteers from Shepley Wood Products was adorned in Santa hats while a group from the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Cape Cod wore pink construction hats.

Among those providing entertainment during the evening were several HAC staffers, including Alison Reid who sang a live rendition of the Jackson Five’s “Give Love on Christmas Day” as well as Greg and Karin Bar and Derick Bussiere who performed a pre-taped acoustic version of James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend.”

WCAI’s Sean Corcoran, who served as a co-host during the evening, led several children from the Nathaniel H. Wixon Innovation School in a sing-a-long of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” while David Kuehn, executive director of the Cotuit Center for the Arts, was joined by actress Hannah Carrita in performing a Christmas-themed medley.

DSC 0770 resized 600State Representative Timothy Madden (right) talks about homelessness on Cape Cod with telethon co-hosts Mindy Todd (left) and Sarah Colvin.

Underlying the performances was the theme of action, one that several speakers touched upon throughout the night. “We’ve got to do better and we will do better,” Madden said. 

“Homelessness is a national disgrace,” said David Augustinho, chair of HAC’s executive board. “Everybody needs to solve this problem together.”

It is a problem that not only HAC is working to solve, but those in the community. Dr. Nate Rudman, an emergency room physician at Cape Cod Hospital, noted that he sees homeless men and women spend anywhere from 140 to 170 hours in the ER because they have nowhere else to go.

“There are so many people in need,” Hyannis Fire Chief Harold Brunelle said. “I think so many people are just one paycheck away from being homeless and we already have a big homeless population on the Cape.”

Thank you so much to all our sponsors (click here for the full list) who helped make this telethon our best yet!

Even though the telethon is over, you can still help support HAC's shelter program. Click the button below to do so today!

Support HAC's Homeless Shelters

Tags: Homeless, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Cape Cod, NOAH Shelter, Village at Cataumet, Carriage House, Angel House, shelter