NEWS & BLOG

Want to find out the latest about HAC? Then you're in the right place. Here you will find stories about the people and programs that make HAC unique. You can start by clicking on our blog which features articles from our monthly newsletter HACbeat as well as stand-alone pieces for the Internet. Click here to read current and past PDFs of HACbeat. If you want to subscribe to digital HACbeat, simply put your email address into the box in the left sidebar and click subscribe. 

For more in-depth research on housing issues facing Cape Cod and the Islands, check out HAC's Housing Research page which features white papers published by HAC's Housing Information Department. 

Scroll down to read archives featuring HAC in the news. 

HAC in the News

HAC Cuts Ribbon for Curio House

Posted on Thu, Nov 18, 2010

SANDWICH — Early next year, the first residents of a neighborhood 11 years in the making will move in to an energy-efficient house built originally for a competition by college students.

Becca Wolfson and her boyfriend, Billy Traverse, were all smiles Wednesday as officials from Housing Assistance Corp. cut the ribbon on the Curio House, an 800-square-foot home built from recycled wood and featuring solar panels that will supply all of its electricity, at the Community Green.

Community Green is a 46-acre development off Victory Circle near the Sandwich Industrial Park that evolved from a controversial project once known as Dana's Fields.

Wolfson, an employee with AmeriCorps, and Traverse, a network administrator for Barnstable County, will act as caretakers for the property, said Rick Presbrey, CEO and president of Housing Assistance Corp.

In exchange for reduced rent, the couple will assure the house's systems are in working order, offer tours to prospective donors and even feed chickens expected to arrive on the property this spring, Wolfson said.

"We're excited," she said. "We're for all things sustainable."

Curio House was built by students from Tufts University and Boston Architectural College for the 2009 U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon. It was one of 19 houses built for the competition and may be the only one being used as an actual home, said Antje Danielson, administrative director of the Tufts Institute of the Environment, who helped oversee the project. "We're really happy this house has a purpose now," she said.

That was apparent in the tears of Michelle Stadelman, a student at Boston Architectural College, who was the project director. "This is kind of a dream come true to see our vision come to life," she said.

Curio House, which means "precious box," was purchased for $150,000 and delivered by flatbed truck last fall from Washington, D.C., to the Cape, where it remained in storage for a year. Last month, it was moved from Bourne to Sandwich and is almost ready for Wolfson and Traverse to move in.

The house was built not just to keep energy prices down but to make them non-existent, Presbrey said.

Solar panels on the roof generate enough electricity to power the house with some left over to sell back to the grid. The house also features five solar thermal collectors, which use sunlight to heat the water used in sinks, showers and the radiant-heat flooring. Rain water is collected from the roof and used to irrigate plants in the yard. And floor-to-ceiling windows are also strategically located to take advantage of the winter sun.

All of the features create what Presbrey calls a "dramatically energy-efficient house."

Curio House has a modern look, but its materials are basic, Stadelman said. The cabinets were made from plywood. The bed, which is just across from the kitchen area, can fold up into the wall and a bookcase rolls to turn the space into a living room.

Curio House is one of five single-family homes planned for the mixed-use development, Presbrey said. A second house, being designed by Boston Architectural College, is another energy efficient-building planned for a family of four, he said.

Presbrey said Housing Assistance Corp. continues to work on other funding sources for the overall project.

"We're going to take our time and do it right," he said.

Community Green will eventually include a community center and more than 50 one-to-three-bedroom apartments — 15 of which will be used to move "recently homeless" people into apartment living and provide them with work, Presbrey said

During his remarks to a house full of guests eager to see the Curio House, Presbrey made brief mention of the controversy that dogged the project in the beginning. In 2007, a court case was settled with neighbors who originally objected to the scope of the project, and the necessary permits were granted.

But Wednesday was a chance to celebrate with apple and pumpkin pies and pats on the back. "It does take quite a while to see affordable housing, sustainable housing come together," said Jack Delaney, president of the board of directors for Housing Assistance Corp.

"The wave of the future in the building industry is sustainable. There's no doubt about it. ... I'm glad to see Housing Assistance Corp. is leading the way."

Linens, canned goods much-needed at shelters

Posted on Wed, Nov 10, 2010

MID CAPE — If you’re like most people, you could always use more room on your closet shelves. The Housing Assistance Corporation in Hyannis has the perfect solution.

“There are certain things we always need very much,” said Allison Rice, vice president of operations for HAC, which operates the NOAH Shelter and numerous transitional shelters for homeless single parents and families with children.

Towels and bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, blankets and comforters, top Rice’s list of “most wanted” donations. For those who wish to go a step further, new pillows are constantly in short supply. “At NOAH, Angel House and the Villages at Cataumet especially, blankets and pillows are desperately needed,” Rice said.

Angel House in Hyannis works with families recovering from alcohol or other drug abuse, providing a structured and secure environment where parents and children can be reunited and recover from the dual traumas of substance abuse and homelessness. Many of these children attend Barnstable and Dennis-Yarmouth schools.

“We have this constant need because when people move out, we let them take their bedding with them,” Rice said. “Health codes require that we give each person his or her own new pillow, so donations of new pillows are desperately needed.”

Non-perishable food items and canned goods are in short supply at the family shelters. “They go pretty fast, and families in crisis, with no permanent address, depend on direct donations for their food,” Rice says. “Just normal, family-size packages are so very much appreciated.”

Donations of linens and non-perishable food items may be dropped off at Housing Assistance Corporation, 460 West Main St., Hyannis.

Brokers, bankers and officials discuss affordable-housing options at community forum

Posted on Fri, Nov 05, 2010

BREWSTER — So how has the housing/mortgage/banking/fiasco affected Cape Cod’s own housing problems? Prices are down, are homes more affordable? Well, not enough to make living easy for many Cape workers.

“Our housing costs are 10 percent higher than the rest of the state but wages are 30 percent lower so it’s simple math,” explained Abigail Chapman, housing development project manager for the Eastham-based community development partnership. “People struggle to make ends meet.”

She was speaking at a forum organized by the town of Brewster at Captains Golf course last Wednesday, which brought together real estate brokers, bankers and local officials and volunteers.

“We wanted to do an exchange of ideas and let people know what some of the opportunities and obstacles were,” said Steve Leibowitz of the Brewster Housing Partnership. “I’d also like to put in a plug for Brewster residents to join us on the partnership.”

The partnership has openings for people interested in making Brewster affordable to a range of workers.

“It’s very critical largely because the Cape cost of housing is higher, and wages are lower so service workers can’t afford to buy a place or rent a place,” said Paul Ruchinskas of the Brewster Community Preservation Committee. “We’re almost 5,000 units short of getting to the 10 percent goal (on Cape) so the need for rental is particularly critical here otherwise we will not be able to sustain our workforce.”

“The only way of keeping any of our youth is affordable housing,” declared retired banker Elliot Carr.

So what is being done? The CDP has just finished putting a dozen affordable rental units into Harwich on Thankful Chases Pathway.

“The state likes to see a cost of under $300,000 per unit, that’s their guideline,” noted Chapman. “We develop 100 percent of our units affordably, 80 percent or under the median income, that’s the threshold. Our development in Harwich was 60 percent or under. They have to income qualify and are deed restricted to have income qualified to obtain a mortgage but it’s a small price if you have a good home.”

Deed restrictions, which limit the income of renters or buyers, can trim the unit’s value.

“One of my favorite subjects is the accessory apartments for an affordable housing plan which doesn’t work in Brewster or other towns,” chimed in Paul Hush, chairman of the CPC, “mainly because of deed restrictions.”

Home and apartment owners think they’re just too much of a headache. Using such units require zoning approval, contingent upon the creation of low-income housing.

“If the homeowner increases the price beyond what it should be, he loses the privilege of doing it,” Hush pointed out. “I certainly would like to see us explore accessory housing without deed restrictions. Owners could use the extra income and most would stick to the pricing needed with deed restrictions.”

Brewster Assistant Town Administrator Jillian Douglass noted there were six deed-restricted apartments in town. She said it was possible to have an unrestricted in-law apartment.

Most developers get a comprehensive permit, which requires 25 percent of the housing to be affordable, and in return get a variance from the zoning board of appeals that allows for multi-family higher density housing.

“At least 98 percent of affordable housing is done through comprehensive permits,” Douglass opined. “We would not have affordable housing without comprehensive permits.”

There are other resources available. The Community Preservation Committee buys land for open space, historic preservation and recreation but up to 30 percent of its funds can be spent on housing.

“One of the founding reasons for the CPC was to be able to support affordable housing,” said Gael Kelleher of the Housing Assistance Corporation of Cape Cod. “But there really is not much money there to do that. For instance, in Brewster, under CPC guidelines overall it’s about $900,000 (in the bank) and $100,000 to $300,000 can go toward housing in any one year. So the only way to do anything important is to have projects that are funded by the town, HAC, CPC, and other sources so we are putting in money that can be leveraged and we’re hoping somebody can come up with projects the CPC can invest in.”

Still their cost of construction or conversion limits what impact they’ll have.
With costs running $200,000 to $300,000 per unit, that’s “not going to create a lot of action,” Kelleher conceded.

But towns have other options.

“One of the most effective ways is when towns establish a housing trust,” Leibowitz opined. “That has been pretty effective in Barnstable. Yarmouth has also used it effectively. We need a housing trust fund in this town.”

“Brewster does have a fund but it’s not a housing trust,” conceded Douglass. “It has a balance of $250.”

The housing fund was created by special act of the Legislature. A housing trust will have its own board that controls the money. Brewster’s housing fund is under the control of the selectmen.

“Everyone wants affordable housing but nobody wants it where they live,” said Ed Lewis, chairman of Brewster’s selectmen. “They think it’s great on the other side of town. A significant part of the population doesn’t understand the difference between affordable housing and subsidized housing. Affordable housing can be good for the community.”

One concern seems to be that affordable housing attracts a transient population.

“In Brewster at Belmont Park, there are 20 units of affordable housing and there have been four turnovers,” Douglass countered. “Yankee Drive has a similar rate.”

Getting a mortgage with less than the median income has become very difficult in these times. One banker said underwriting loans on Cape Cod was more difficult than on the other side of the bridge, “because typically here, people have two to three jobs or are dependent on overtime,” and if they lose a job, “we want to make sure they don’t use credit cards to tide themselves over.”

But he said there are bargain prices because of all the foreclosures and that should eliminate the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) problem since people don’t like to see vacant homes in their neighborhood.

“We also need to identify property for affordable housing that makes sense where land is not a cost (i.e. town-owned),” Lewis said.

Many programs are available for buyers, administered through the Housing Assistance Corporation, such as funds for emergency shelter, weatherization, rental subsidies, loan aid for first-time buyers, help with downpayments and consumer education.

HAC holds public meeting for Nantucket project

Posted on Wed, Sep 22, 2010

Nantucket — In conjunction with the Nantucket Housing Authority, the Housing Assistance Corporation of Hyannis is holding a public meeting on September 29 to introduce the HAC’s development team for the new, 50-unit, owner-occupied, mixed-income Sachem’s Path home project on nine acres along Surfside Road. On July 7 Housing Assistance Corporation won the bid for the development over E.A. Fish Companies based in Braintree.

The public session will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the high school. The development team will be introduced to residents and will discuss the project that consists of affordable one-, two- and three-bedroom homes on land abutting the Housing Authority’s Miacomet Village subsidized rental units. In addition, people interested in living at Sachem’s Path will learn how to become ready to buy a home there with assistance from HAC’s Cape Cod Real Estate Department and others. The project is scheduled for construction in three phases.

“This meeting is more than for people who want to buy, but also for those who want to know what’s going on,” said Gisele Gauthier, the Director of Housing Development in HAC’s Housing Development Department. “We have a plan to break ground in the fall of 2011. We have just submitted a proposal to the Community Preservation Committee asking for $1 million for the design, planning and permitting of the project and infrastructure. We have gathered a group of 12 people from Nantucket to address the project and educate about the Nantucket environment as the design is developed.”

The advisory panel will include Preston and Tandi Harimon, Catherine Ancero, Jason and Venessa Larrabee, Mickey Rowland, Mark McDougall, Penny Dey, Mark Voigt, Sarah Moe Ray, Cormac Collier, Dirk Roggeveen and Alison Brown.

A key point in the Sachem’s Path plan is to allow potential home owners to have input into the design, site position relative to the street and window and door types for their houses.
“It is going to be a really exciting approach,” said Renee Ceely, the NHA executive director.
In its development proposal, the HAC wrote, “We believe that for us to orchestrate and conduct this community development process will require approximately six months and will result in the highest quality housing while maximizing island business and community involvement. We realize that this is unconventional, but what we intend to achieve is also unconventional — and quite special as well.”

The property was conveyed to the HAC with perpetual affordable housing deed restrictions to be placed on every unit and a first right of refusal granted to the NHA in the event of a sale. The project is important to the authority because a significant portion of the island’s year-round housing has been purchased for summer homes, leaving many community residents unable to buy property at its subsequently inflated value. A 2002 Housing Action Plan survey done by the town revealed that the housing crisis amounts to the primary source of ‘most of Nantucket’s economic, social and even environmental problems.’

The Housing Assistance Corporation has been building affordable dwellings for nearly 30 years totaling approximately 350 units, including five housing developments between 2006 and 2008. The corporation currently has 62 rental units under construction on the mainland.
Its development team for the Nantucket project is comprised of professionals who have worked with HAC on previous projects in the Northeast and includes architects Coldham & Hartman of North Amherst, Mass. and Brown, Lindquist, Fenuccio and Raber of Yarmouthport, Mass. The landscape architect is Coplon Associates based in Bar Harbor, Maine but also licensed in Massachusetts, and the design consultant is South Mountain Company owned by John Abrams of West Tisbury, on Martha’s Vineyard. Horsley Witten Group, which has been involved with other Nantucket projects, will be the civil engineer. The general contractor and subcontractors will be local people, Ceely explained.

The development, formally called the Sachem’s Path Homeownership Project, will consist of 25 percent of its homes priced for families earning between 60 and 80 percent of Nantucket’s median income and the remainder priced for those earning 81 to 150 percent of the median income.

The architectural requirements reflect traditional local designs. The developer will create a community feel for the project while also using site methods and landscaping to provide privacy for the units. All steps necessary will be taken to make the homes energy efficient and save on water. The bidders were evaluated, in part, according to their intent to utilize a local workforce in construction and management of the property. The Sachem’s Path property manager will be the Nantucket Housing Authority.

Delahunt leads roundtable on homelessness

Posted on Tue, Sep 21, 2010

HYANNIS — Responding to concerns that a lack of resources is a "dark cloud" over their work to prevent homelessness, U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., told a group of housing advocates yesterday he is confident he can persuade Gov. Deval Patrick to send some just-arrived stimulus money in their direction.

"I will see the governor soon, so keep hope alive," Delahunt told about 25 people at a roundtable discussion about homelessness at Housing Assistance Corporation yesterday.

In particular, Delahunt promised to ask the governor to restore funding to Cape Cod programs that prevent families from becoming homeless.

"This has got nothing to do with compassion or altruism," Delahunt said. "It's about the bottom line."

Since 2003, the state has set aside roughly $300,000 annually for Cape Cod nonprofits to help families get back on track from temporary financial setbacks such as unexpected medical bills or car repairs that can snowball into eviction or foreclosure.

In fiscal 2010,HAC said it kept 244 Cape families in their homes for $249,000. Since fiscal 2005, HAC officials said they have spent, on average, just under $1,600 per family — far less than the average $4,000 that the state spends to house a homeless family in a motel for a month.

Statewide, about 700 people are living in motels paid for by the state, but on the Cape, no homeless families are in motels, housing advocates said.

"Financially it is ridiculous," to pay for families to stay in motels instead of preventing them from becoming homeless in the first place, said Allison Rice, vice president for operations at HAC.

"It's a model that deserves to be examined and modeled elsewhere," Delahunt said.

HAC officials said they have felt the funding pinch since February 2009, when the state announced it would cut all the money for the program, but some services have been kept alive through private donations and stimulus funding.

"It's an important issue for the Cape, and it's certainly the most cost-effective way to "» make sure people don't lose their housing," said state Rep. Matthew Patrick, D-Falmouth, who lobbied unsuccessfully to protect the state funding for the program.

State Senate candidate James Crocker, who attended the roundtable discussion, pledged that he would work to support funding HAC's mission if elected.

"I just don't want to see all the good works going backwards," the Barnstable Town Council member said at the forum.

Gov. Patrick is expected to decide "very soon" how he will appropriate $450 million in new federal stimulus money, which has to be spent this fiscal year, said spokesman Cyndi Roy, who declined to give specifics about the governor's timeline.

Delahunt's pledge came as advocates described their worries ranging from veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq who cannot find jobs to elderly people taking on reverse mortgages.

His pledge to lobby the governor comes at the twilight of his 13-year career representing the 10th District in the House of Representatives.

At the end of the roundtable, HAC president and CEO Frederic B. Presbrey presented the congressman with a broom and dustpan — to "help clean up" Washington, he said.

On the dustpan was an engraved plaque: "Don't get swept away with the joys of retirement," it said.

Renewed commitment to reducing shelter beds

Posted on Fri, Sep 17, 2010

A new advisory committee is helping the Housing Assistance Corporation move toward reducing beds at the NOAH Center shelter in Hyannis.

“The goal is to discourage people from coming, in a compassionate way,” Housing Assistance Corporation CEO Rick Presbrey told fellow members of the Main Street Initiative Sept. 14. “A different admissions policy and triage are part of it.”

Noting that his description of ideas being discussed was “not a promise,” Presbrey said the advisory committee is considering a policy of limited stays. It’s something that could require a legislative change, but he believes the Cape’s delegation would be supportive.

“The overall goal is to get down to 20 [beds],” he said. “We might go further than that.”
Ideas include relocating facilities for women, which Presbrey said would drop the bed count on North Street from 60 to 40. There’s also talk of small shelters in Falmouth and Orleans.

Presbrey said he’s talked with Heidi Nelson, the new CEO of the Duffy Center, about a “different relationship” in which “Duffy’s making decisions about who gets in” to the shelter. Someone who comes to NOAH for services wouldn’t be turned away that night, he said, but they’d be at Duffy the next day “and may not come back to NOAH.”

Deborah Converse, CEO of the Hyannis Chamber of Commerce, said the 20-bed goal was “very ambitious” and asked for a timeframe. Presbrey said his advisory committee would “kill him” if he offered a date.

“There have been enough false starts,” said Bob Ciolek, who’s representing the Greater Hyannis Civic Association on the shelter advisory committee. “Once we begin, we’ll keep to a timeline.”

“We’re going to need a unified community to do it,” Presbrey said. “I’ve forgotten about the past. It’s talking about the present and the future for me.”

Also at this week’s meeting, Main Street Initiative members heard also that funds are running out at the Community Action Committee of Cape Cod and Islands and the Cape Cod Council of Churches for the two outreach workers who have been crucial to the effort’s success.

Members of the advisory committee working with HAC on the NOAH Center are Elizabeth Gawron of The Community Foundation, Rick Penn of Puritan Clothing, Diane Casey Lee of the Cape Cod Council of Churches, retired bank president Larry Squire, Chuck Robinson of Rogers and Gray Insurance, emergency room physician Dr. Nate Rudman, Paul Hebert of CHAMP Homes, Rev. Dr. John Terry of Federated Church of Hyannis, Joel Crowell of Cape Cod Cooperative Bank, and Bob Ciolek.

Can we all spare a dime to keep people housed?

Posted on Tue, Aug 17, 2010

I had an idea after reading "Family housing program goes bust" (Aug. 9), which explained that a successful homeless prevention program will no longer be funded due to the budgetary crisis.

Private donations will need to be the primary source for funding, but as the director of the Homeless Prevention Council in Orleans notes, in this economy, that is asking a lot of people.

Or is it?

Cape Cod's population now is, according to a Barnstable County website, 220,406. Let's say 20 percent are under age 20 (44,081 kids). That leaves us with 176,325 adults. What if every single adult could "spare a dime" as in the old Harburg/Gorney song of 1931, "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" If 176,325 people each gave a dime it would come to $17,632.50!

Sometimes when a collective force unites for a common cause, amazing things happen.Maybe it's just me, but this seems doable (who doesn't have a dime?) and sensible (who wants to be homeless? and who wants more homeless people?).

I've never organized a thing in my life, but a "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" campaign could pull in the money needed to keep people from becoming homeless. Anyone game?

Jeanne Heroux

North Harwich

Funding Gone for Model Prevention Program

Posted on Mon, Aug 09, 2010

Family housing program goes bust

Cape housing activists say they've done a good job keeping local families out of shelters by developing a homelessness prevention program that serves as a model for the state.

But now that state prevention funds have just about run dry, the activists fear Cape families teetering on the verge of homelessness will lose their housing.

"We are in disbelief," said Chris Austin, executive director of the Homeless Prevention Council in Orleans. The agency's state-funded homelessness prevention funds ran out this month.

Prevention funds that paid for back rent or utilities helped her agency keep 850 children in their own homes last year, Austin said. "We're going to be sending these children into shelters" now.

The budgetary crisis began more than a year ago, when Cape towns stopped receiving money from two state sources for homelessness prevention, said Virginia Ryan of the Housing Assistance Corp. in Hyannis, also known as HAC.

The Cape lost its share of state funds through Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, which came to $500,000, as well as $280,000 in a special earmark for homelessness prevention on Cape Cod, she said.

The earmark had hovered at around $300,000 since 1993, when Cape housing advocates developed a homelessness prevention program to get families out of motels. To be eligible for the earmark, private organizations in the community — such as the Dennis-Yarmouth Ecumenical Council for the Homeless and the Barnstable Interfaith Council — had to raise matching funds, Ryan said.

The combination of state and private funding works, she said. "We no longer have families staying in motels."

The situation is different in other parts of Massachusetts, where more than 1,000 people recently were living in motels at state expense, although that number is now below 700, housing advocates said.

They say the state is diverting money from homelessness prevention to deal with the emergency shelter problem, but that solution could aggravate homelessness on the Cape. "They're sort of robbing Peter to pay Paul," said state Rep. Matthew Patrick, D-Falmouth, who unsuccessfully lobbied for a restoration of funds in the current budget.

Spending money on prevention "just works so much better and it's much more cost effective," Patrick said.

It costs the state $4,000 to house a family in a motel for a month, while one-time homelessness prevention assistance typically comes to $2,100 or less, said Allison Rice of HAC.

In fiscal 2010, HAC spent $249,000 keeping 244 families in their homes, Rice said. Housing advocates used $500,000 from a one-time Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness grant of $765,000 to fund prevention programs affected by state cuts last year.

Now the ICHH money is also gone, said Austin, whose Orleans-based agency helped 45 families avoid losing their housing in the first three months of 2010.

State officials have indicated housing agencies should rely more on private donations, but in this recession-strapped economy that is asking a lot of the community, Austin said.

Austin said people who traditionally gave her agency $50 are now making donations of $25.

In an e-mail, Liz Curtis, ICHH executive director, said the Patrick-Murray administration is focused on a "housing-first" model.

"We will continue working to identify best practices in homelessness prevention and are dedicated to understanding how those efforts can be raised to scale in order to reach at-risk households across the Commonwealth," she wrote.

Rep. Patrick said he'll support a supplemental budget to try to restore homelessness prevention funds before the 2011 fiscal year is up.

"At one point we had a lot of people in Barnstable Count

Organic Idea Takes Root

Posted on Mon, Aug 02, 2010

For many people, spending extra money on a diet of fresh, organic, local food isn't on the menu.

However, for the people living at Housing Assistance Corp.'s shelters, a healthy diet of organic food is not out of reach — in fact, it may be just a stroll in the community garden away.

The community garden at the Community Green in Sandwich is bursting with vegetables ready to be harvested and delivered to a number of HAC shelters. Nestled among the 1½-acre community farming land, three garden plots are dedicated to growing these vegetables — among them, lettuce, fennel, cucumbers, beets, herbs and beans.

Kristie Kapp , the agriculture program manager, starts her mornings at dawn to tend to the ripening veggies. She began working on this plot of land in January and is finally seeing the fruits (or, in this case, vegetables) of her labor.

"It's fun to be a part of something from the bottom up. You see the whole process and can really appreciate the product."

The first harvest was distributed to the Angel House in Hyannis on June 29. Other shelters that have received the produce include the Carriage House in Falmouth and the Village at Cataumet.

The harvesting will continue throughout the summer and into the fall, bringing in peppers, eggplants, onions, pumpkins and winter squash.

Kapp said the program has been well-received by the families and individuals — many of whom aren't accustomed to eating much organic produce.

"They're so appreciative," she said. "Low-income people deserve healthy, organic food. ... That's where we're trying to bridge the gap."

HAC is also helping recipients with the preparation process. Volunteers will be running Saturday classes to teach simple and delicious ways to cook the produce — lessons that recipients can take with them after they leave their temporary housing.

Tisha Childs of Mashpee, facility director at the Carriage House, said having the food has been a great benefit for the shelter, since vegetables can be expensive in supermarkets.

"They are just enjoying having somebody come here and help them prepare the vegetables," she said. "They are expanding their palates, so to speak."

The Community Green consists of 45 acres of undeveloped land, save for the acre and a half used for the community garden. However, HAC is currently clearing out 15 of these acres to build low- to moderate-income housing. Along with the housing, there will also be space to continue growing produce for the shelters.

A portion of the vegetables will be sold and the money will go back into the farming process. The goal is to make the garden a self-sustaining project, without the need for outside donors.

When it's complete, Kapp hopes to turn the Community Green into a "mecca of sustainable agriculture on Cape Cod."

"There's this new wave of buying local, fresh and organic," she said. "It's time to jump on the wave."

HAC to Develop 50-Home Project on Nantucket

Posted on Wed, Jul 14, 2010

Nantucket Independent

The Nantucket Housing Authority board on July 7 chose the Housing Assistance Corporation of Hyannis to develop its new 50 owner-occupied mixed income Sachem’s Path home project on nine acres along Surfside Road. The HAC was one of two bidders interested in building the affordable units and won out over E.A. Fish Companies based in Braintree.

A key point in the plan, though it is just in the preliminary stages of applying for board approvals, is to allow potential home owners to have input into the design, site position relative to the street and window and door types for their houses. The plan further seeks to involve the Community Preservation Committee, members of the at-large community with affordable housing interests and others.

“It is going to be a really exciting approach,” said Renee Ceely, the NHA executive director.
In its development proposal, the HAC wrote, “We believe that for us to orchestrate and conduct this community development process will require approximately six months and will result in the highest quality housing while maximizing island business and community involvement. We realize that this is unconventional, but what we intend to achieve is also unconventional — and quite special as well.”

The housing will be on land owned by the authority that abuts its existing 41 state and federally subsidized public rentals. The property will be conveyed to the corporation with perpetual affordable housing deed restrictions on every unit and a first right of refusal granted to the NHA in the event of a sale.

The project is important to the authority because a significant portion of the island’s year-round housing has been purchased for summer homes, leaving many community residents unable to buy property at its subsequently inflated value. A 2002 Housing Action Plan survey done by the town revealed that the housing crisis amounts to the primary source of ‘most of Nantucket’s economic, social and even environmental problems.’

The Housing Assistance Corporation has been building affordable dwellings for nearly 30 years totaling approximately 350 units, including five housing developments between 2006 and 2008. The corporation currently has 62 rental units under construction.

Its development team for the Nantucket project is comprised of professionals who have worked with HAC on previous projects in the Northeast and includes architects Coldham & Hartman of North Amherst, Mass. and Brown, Lindquist, Fenuccio and Raber of Yarmouthport, Mass. The landscape architect is Coplon Associates based in Bar Harbor, Maine but also licensed in Massachusetts, and the design consultant is South Mountain Company owned by John Abrams of West Tisbury, on Martha’s Vineyard. Horsley Witten Group, which has been involved with other Nantucket projects, will be the civil engineer. The general contractor and subcontractors will be local people, Ceely explained.

The development, formally called the Sachem’s Path Homeownership Project, will consist of one, two and three-bedroom homes with 25 percent priced for families earning between 60 and 80 percent of Nantucket’s median income and the remainder priced for those earning 81 to 150 percent of the median income.

The architectural requirements reflect traditional local designs. The developer will create a community feel for the project while also using site methods and landscaping to provide privacy for the units. All steps necessary will be taken to make the homes energy efficient and save on water. The bidders were evaluated, in part, according to their intent to utilize a local workforce in construction and management of the property. The Sachem’s Path property manager will be the Nantucket Housing Authority.