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https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/hacbeat-banner-400x127-2.png 300 400 Tracy O'Neill https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/hac-logo.png Tracy O'Neill2023-10-12 10:45:062023-12-28 15:46:32HACbeat: September / October 2023
In this issue:
- Cover story: A Moving and Inspiring Discussion About ‘Rough Sleepers’
- Donor Spotlight: Eugenie and Dick Schott
- Gossip and Hearsay Won’t Lead to Solutions – Editorial by Alisa Magnotta
- Pricey and Nonexistent: The Housing Crisis Forces More Residents into Homelessness
- Shelter Children Find Joy and Sense of Normalcy in Arts Classes
- Former Client Organizes Shelter Toy Drive
- For the Foleys, an ADU is the Perfect Solution
- Eastern Bank Foundation Continues to ‘Step Up’ to Help Cape’s Homeless
- ‘I Know What It’s Like,’ Says New Homeless Youth Peer Mentor
- Give Hope Where You Live
https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/HA-logo-featured-image.png 788 940 Tracy O'Neill https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/hac-logo.png Tracy O'Neill2023-10-10 18:07:202024-01-08 20:22:50Housing Assistance CEO Writes to Federal Lawmakers About Migrant Crisis
The Honorable Elizabeth Warren
The Honorable Edward J. Markey
The Honorable William R. Keating
September 18, 2023
The Honorable Elizabeth Warren
United States Senate
309 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Edward J. Markey
United States Senate
255 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable William R. Keating
United States House of Representatives
2351 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Senators Warren and Markey and Congressman Keating,
The Housing Assistance Corporation of Cape Cod, an organization that I lead, shares the deep concern of countless Massachusetts residents and U.S. citizens: the ongoing migrant crisis.
This crisis, as you well know, has created an immense challenge for the Commonwealth, local municipalities, and emergency housing providers, which have scrambled to assist the influx of families that are arriving in Massachusetts. The network of shelters and temporary housing that our agency, and others like us, operate is now at its breaking point.
Housing Assistance Corporation is a nonprofit agency that has helped provide housing throughout Cape Cod and the Islands for nearly 50 years. Our programs and services help bridge the wide gap between homelessness and homeownership. We operate shelters, rental assistance, and stabilization programs; we provide housing education and weatherization; and we build safe, high-quality homes that provide ownership and rental opportunities to strengthen our local economy and diverse community. The Cape is in the grip of an unprecedented and unremitting housing crisis that forces hundreds of multi-generational families to leave every year in search of lower-cost housing across the bridges, and this has fueled a workforce shortage that leaves municipalities short-staffed and businesses unable to meet the demands of a seasonal economy. It is quite common for families to walk through the front door of our offices having lost their housing and with suitcases in hand and nowhere to go for the night.
Thankfully, we have shelters on the Cape so that families can stay right here, children can remain enrolled in their school, and parents can be close to their jobs. This very resource, however, is at serious risk as our shelters are nearly buckling under the pressure of housing migrant families. We welcome these families and want to help them – our nation was built on the backs of immigrants – but we simply do not have the capacity to serve them while serving local families that have been here, in many cases, their entire lives.
At the Housing Assistance Corporation, we would like to think that we have the resources – both in the form of advocacy for more year-round housing for local families, the housing units (both temporary and permanent) we provide, and the development of new housing – to contribute to a solution to the long-term Cape housing crisis. But with the migrant crisis growing, our resources and support for new projects in the pipeline to serve our traditional population of longstanding year-round Cape residents is at risk. We absolutely do not have the resources to tackle the migrant crisis on the Cape, nor should we be expected to.
We want you, our elected federal representatives, to hear directly from us that our short-term housing resources are over-capacity, and that could soon eliminate options for short-term emergency housing for local, long-term residents. We must make this very clear: we are overwhelmed.
The migrant crisis is the result of decades of failed U.S. immigration policy. No one administration should be blamed for the current situation, as it is the logical result of what has transpired for many years. We do not blame the migrant families that flee tyranny, oppression, and violence, and seek a better life here.
Most importantly, we call on you to secure the resources needed to assist the arriving migrants in Massachusetts, and particularly on the Cape. We need financial resources for emergency assistance to ensure that all new families have a safe place to shelter. We recommend that you fast-track work visas for new arrivals, so taxpayers do not have to pay full freight. Additionally, we ask you to dedicate funds for housing creation, so we have the necessary inventory for our year-round Cape residents and arriving families.
We further urge you to work in a bi-partisan manner to bring resolution to this issue, to overcome the fissures in Congress so that a coherent, consistent federal policy on immigration can be created. Congress must lead on this matter as the executive branch, from both parties, has historically been unable to do so.
Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter and for your support of our efforts to address the ongoing housing crisis for the residents of Cape Cod and the Islands.
Chief Executive Officer
https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/HA-logo-featured-image.png 788 940 Housing Assistance https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/hac-logo.png Housing Assistance2023-10-04 19:14:322024-01-08 20:24:43Housing Assistance Statement on One Love Lane in Dennis
Housing Assistance finalized the purchase of One Love Lane in Dennis – known now as South Dennis Health Care – on September 28th. The broker approached us to buy the property in January of 2023, noting that maintaining staff had become difficult due to a lack of sufficient housing in the area. We have spent the past several months working with the owners on the purchase and sale.
The current nursing home operator will continue to lease the facility allowing them time to work with state health officials to relocate the residents and wind down their business operation in accordance with established state regulatory requirements.
This acquisition is made in accordance with Housing Assistance Corporation’s multi-year strategic plan. Our agency’s focus is to address housing insecurity for residents in our region through a multitude of educational programs and housing projects. Any property we acquire is intended to be utilized long-term to fulfill our well-established mission.
With that, in the coming months, Housing Assistance will continue to assess the building and finalize our next steps. Once we complete these steps, we will be able to formalize a concept plan for the building. Until then, we look forward to continuing our relationship with the Town of Dennis as we work to make this dream a reality.
If you have any inquiries on current operations at the property, please contact South Dennis Health Care at (888)-243-4646 or firstname.lastname@example.org
https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/socialpost-ebf-logo_fb-ig_2.png 400 768 Tracy O'Neill https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/hac-logo.png Tracy O'Neill2023-09-30 21:53:202024-01-08 20:27:07Eastern Bank Foundation Continues to ‘Step Up’ to Help Cape’s Homeless
A 95-year-old World War II veteran and his daughter who became homeless after losing their Yarmouth rental. A married couple with disabilities who were sleeping in their jam-packed car as the cold winter temperatures moved in. These are just a few of the people Housing Assistance was able to help, thanks to funding from the Eastern Bank Foundation, a supporter of the agency for nearly 20 years.
In late 2022, as needs for elderly and disabled transitional housing were becoming more and more pressing, staff from Housing Assistance’s Resource Development Department reached out to Eastern Bank Foundation (EBF) leadership to discuss the rising needs of the Cape & Islands community. Housing Assistance then submitted an application to EBF for $50,000 in funding to help. It was the largest request Housing Assistance had ever made to Eastern outside of pandemic relief.
“This was a ‘big ask,’ but the funds were needed to pay for hotel rooms due to the dire shortage of affordable rentals,” said Patricia Mitrokostas, senior director of strategic funding initiatives and foundation relations at Housing Assistance. Funders, particularly foundations, usually prefer to support initiatives that have longer term goals. But Eastern Bank Foundation’s strategy is meant to be focused yet flexible when crisis strikes, and their leadership understood how immediate and dangerous homelessness can be in the winter. “Eastern stepped up to help in a big way, allowing us to meet an immediate need that literally saved people from sleeping on the streets in encampments and other places not meant for human habitation,” said Mitrokostas.
The Eastern Bank Foundation funds helped some of Housing Assistance’s most vulnerable clients: elderly residents who had lost their permanent housing.
This includes a 72-year-old man from Hyannis who was sleeping in his truck, a 59-year-old disabled man from Brewster who found himself homeless after the breakup of a long-term relationship and a 74-year-old disabled woman from Falmouth who could no longer afford her rent and was living in her car.
“As Cape and Islands housing costs continue to be out of sight and inventory for reasonable rentals stays very scarce, it is crucial that Housing Assistance continues to help people afford to live and work on the Cape and for the elderly and disabled community members to be protected, “ said Nancy Huntington Stager, President & CEO, Eastern Bank Foundation.
The Eastern Bank Foundation has been a Housing Assistance supporter since 2005, contributing more than $260,000, primarily through event and corporate sponsorships. EBF also awarded $65,000 in pandemic relief funds in 2020.
Eastern Bank Foundation celebrates exceptional nonprofit leaders with their annual Community Advocacy Award. Housing Assistance CEO Alisa Magnotta was one of the 2023 recipients recognized for her work securing safe and affordable housing for the Cape and islands.
“Eastern Bank Foundation has been proud to work with this gem of an organization over many years as Alisa and her team continue to take on the important and challenging issue of creating and preserving access to more and better safe, affordable and quality housing,” said Stager.
https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/AlisaMagnotta-400x560-1.jpg 288 400 Tracy O'Neill https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/hac-logo.png Tracy O'Neill2023-09-30 17:47:052024-01-18 13:57:41Gossip and Hearsay Won’t Lead to Solutions
EDITORIAL BY ALISA MAGNOTTA
The migrant crisis that has long been making headlines in faraway states such as Texas and California has finally reached our shores, bringing with it strong emotions and reactions for many residents.
We have seen the protests and the social media posts filled with vitriol, fear, and misinformation, some of which have been directed at Housing Assistance. It’s reached a point where we feel the need to reinforce our mission and values within the local community, among you, our supporters, and with the media.
Like many of you, we too are frustrated by the strain historic federal immigration policies have placed on local resources, and we have written to our federal legislators to urge them to fully confront the national immigration issue. The influx of people to our region has not affected our budget. Our programs remain fully funded and intact, and we continue to work with key officials at the state and local levels to further support and secure housing for Cape and Islands residents.
The truth is this: the incremental increase in migrants across Cape Cod is not the problem. It’s the fact that 1,000 families are forced to leave our region each year due to a housing crisis that has caused a labor shortage and hurt our community. The origins of the housing crisis include a history of restrictive zoning policies and extraordinary market demand. Like other resort regions, families and individuals who are the working backbone of Cape Cod must compete in a housing market with summer residents that fuel our seasonal economy. We can, and must, change these zoning policies to allow for more housing development which will create jobs and help sustain our year-round economy.
In times like these, it’s imperative that we stand together as a community and not let fear and mistrust divide us. We need to remember that we are experiencing two parallel crises – housing and immigration – and while they may seem insurmountable, they are solvable problems. It will take patience, perseverance and kindness, because at the heart of these two crises are human beings that need our help.
We are a housing agency. Housing Assistance serves more than 6,000 people every year across the Cape and Islands in 20 towns and three counties. We respond to everyone who comes to us in need of housing. We do not judge the people who seek our assistance; we simply help them.
We invite you to stand with us and address the REAL issue: the severe lack of housing for the people who want to live here year-round and be a part of our economy and community. It’s why we created Housing to Protect Cape Cod, a coalition that now has nearly 1,000 members.
Please join us to be a part of productive and thoughtful change, not gossip and hearsay.
https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/alonso-quote-400x255-1-1.png 287 400 Tracy O'Neill https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/hac-logo.png Tracy O'Neill2023-09-30 17:44:062023-12-28 15:38:35Pricey and Nonexistent: The Housing Crisis Forces More Residents into Homelessness
Two parents, both working steady jobs – they’re probably not the first people you think of when you imagine someone who’s experiencing homelessness, but increasingly, that’s the face of homelessness on Cape Cod.
“That’s something I had never really seen before in all the years I’ve been doing this,” said Paula Mallard, Housing Assistance’s vice president of homeless services.
Rising rents and shrinking inventory have left many individuals and families without housing and without options, she said. A report commissioned by Housing Assistance in 2022 found that Cape Cod’s rental vacancy rate is just 1% and the average home price is over $600,000.
For some families, even a second job isn’t enough. Rent for some two-bedroom apartments is upwards of $2,900 a month.
“Most landlords want you to earn three times the rent,” said Mallard, “A job that pays $20 an hour doesn’t get you into that $2,900 a month apartment. The math just doesn’t work.”
Mallard described how the housing landscape shifted quickly during the COVID pandemic. Many landlords sold their rental homes to second-home buyers, leaving the tenants to search for housing in a rapidly shrinking market.
“The tenants looked and looked and looked on the Cape because their kids were in school here or they had jobs here, and eventually they’d come into a family shelter because they could not find anything,” she said. “If they eventually found another place to live, it was in another town or off-Cape and the kids had to change schools.
People want to stay on the Cape if they’re from the Cape, but it’s extremely hard. The housing market on Cape Cod has always been pricey, but now it’s pricey and non-existent.”
Mallard said that in the past, she said some of the parents in family shelters had difficulty finding work, but that’s changed. “Now it’s about the housing piece. You can get that job easily, but then where are you going to live?” she said. “That’s an interesting turn for those of us that work in the family shelters. You can have a job, but you are going to be hard-pressed to find a place to live.”
Retirees who rent are also feeling the pinch, she said. “We’ve never seen the influx of elderly that we’ve seen in the last few years,” she said. “People who are retired or close to it and hoping to enjoy those next years in a peaceful, happy way – some of them have had the same rental for 20 years and now they’re scrambling to keep a roof over their head.”
Patty Alonso, a Housing Assistance outreach coordinator and community liaison, said it’s hard to give people hope when housing options are so limited.
“I have to be honest with them,” she said. “It’s a very difficult rental market right now. The vacancy rate is less than 1 percent and things are expensive.”
In the five years Alonso’s been with Housing Assistance, the number of elderly homeless people has risen over 50 percent, “and we’re seeing new people every week. It’s definitely a much bigger volume than it’s ever been. They worked their whole lives and now can’t afford to live anywhere.”
Alonso said homelessness does not just affect mentally ill or people with substance abuse issues, the way some people think. “These are functional, contributing citizens who lose a rental and can’t find a new place,” she said. “There’s just nothing out there.”
Every client has a different story, but Alonso said she knows they all have one thing in common.
“I’m sure not one of our clients has ever said, when I grow up, I want to be homeless.”
https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/foleys-400x279-1.png 279 400 Tracy O'Neill https://haconcapecod.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/hac-logo.png Tracy O'Neill2023-09-30 17:28:032023-12-28 15:45:58For the Foleys, an ADU is the Perfect Solution
For John and Barbara-Anne Foley, converting a garage into an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) was just what they needed to allow them to save money in a downsized space while living close to family.
John and Barbara-Anne Foley say their ADU in Sandwich is “working out perfectly.”
“It’s working out fantastic,” said John. “Our two grandchildren are next door, and they pop over every day. We are very happy here. We really wanted to be near our family and that seems like an idea that America is probably going toward. We might be ahead of that curve on that.”
The Foleys, who have lived on Cape Cod for 40 years, began considering buying or building an ADU in 2020. ADUs are small homes or apartment units on the property of a single-family home. Meanwhile, their oldest son, Patrick, wanted to stay on Cape Cod with his wife, but they couldn’t afford to buy a house.
“We made a deal with them,” said John. “We would take the proceeds from selling our house in Harwich and help them buy a house with the understanding we would convert part of the property into an ADU.”
After looking at a number of houses, they found one in Sandwich with a two-car garage that looked promising as a future ADU. A little research revealed that although they were in a historic district, an ADU was allowed by right (zoning laws that reduce the barriers to obtaining a permit to build).
The first architect they consulted came up with plans that were too elaborate, so Barbara-Anne, an outreach coordinator for a veterans group, contacted Housing Assistance, and things began to click. With help from Housing Assistance staff, she became aware of less expensive options and visited an ADU in Mashpee. Keith Trott, director of housing production and maintenance for Housing Assistance, helped them refine their vision for a 900-square-foot unit.
The couple’s revised plans incorporated what they had learned from Housing Assistance and included a small deck on the opposite side of the house to give them some privacy. Construction began last December with John, who works in construction, acting as project manager. Supply-chain issues slowed things down slightly, but the Foleys were able to move in to their one-bedroom ADU in July. “It’s the first time we’ve ever built our own house and we did as much customization inside as we could,” he said. “Outside it looks like it’s almost always been here. It fits in quite comfortably.”
John thinks ADUs are “the wave of the future for the Cape,” but said some towns could do more to make it easier for residents. One solution would be uniform regulations Cape-wide. “They could settle on common criteria, such as enough square footage on the lot, the setbacks, the septic system’s big enough and one or two more [requirements]. If it’s different in every town, people will go crazy trying to find an existing house that will work. I think the Cape is way too slow on getting this up to speed, because there’s no more land to build on. Towns should be encouraging ADUs.”
John said he’s looking forward to many happy years in the ADU. “My grandchildren are three and a half and one and a half, but when they’re 17 and 15, we figure they’re going to bop over here and say, ‘mom and dad are driving us nuts,’ which will be wonderful for us.”
He said his daughter-in-law’s friends have seen the ADU on social media. “They love it and they’re all asking, how do you do it? So it is getting a little bit of push with people her age, early 30s, whose parents are thinking of doing the same thing. It’s working out perfectly for us and our son can stay where he was born and raise his family here.”
To learn more about ADUs, visit haconcapecod.org/adu