|Matt Pitta (left), co-host of last month’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, interviews longtime HAC supporter Paul Hebert about the region’s housing issues.
When Paul and Carolyn Hebert arrived on Cape Cod in 1981 with their three daughters Aimee, Mary and Meg, finding a home was difficult. “We had to rent for two years because we couldn’t find housing we could afford,” he said.
Fast forward 36 years later and Paul admitted the situation is even worse. “It was unreasonably high to buy a house back then, but now for people earning basic wages it is nearly impossible and getting more difficult every day,” he said.
It is for this reason that the Heberts have given to HAC for 20 years, highlighted by their most recent $1,000 donation to the agency at its 14th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon last month. Paul made the donation on-air on behalf of the couple’s company, Charitable Redemption Partnership in Yarmouth, which utilizes proceeds from redeemable cans and bottles to support local charities on the Cape such as HAC.
“As a town councilor in Barnstable, I look to Housing Assistance Corporation as the best prepared to care for the least among us who need housing,” Paul said of his longtime support of the agency.
Paul’s history with HAC goes back to the mid-1980s when he convinced former CEO and founder Rick Presbrey to open the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis to provide emergency shelter for homeless individuals.
In 1991, the Heberts took their activism a step further when they started CHAMP Homes to care for homeless adolescents. “We realized there was more to be done and came to understand that there was this next group that was not being served,” Paul explained. “It was the young people, around 18 years of age, who were sleeping in various places in the community whether it was teaming up six to an apartment or couch surfing or sleeping in cars or the woods just to survive.”
The Heberts spent the next 24 years at CHAMP Homes and were recognized for their efforts with the Presbrey Public Service Award in 2006 at HAC’s Annual Meeting.
Though Paul and his wife stepped down from CHAMP Homes in 2015, he remains as passionate about housing issues as he did when he was first introduced to HAC three decades ago. And he views HAC as a pivotal player in addressing those issues on Cape Cod. “I believe Housing Assistance Corporation is a standard bearer,” Paul said. “They hold the flag to deal with this battle so we have to keep supporting them.”
Why I Give: Paul Hebert
As a Barnstable Town Councilor, Paul Hebert paints a grim picture of the housing reality on Cape Cod. “Living on Cape Cod is not a realistic dream for most people,” he said.
This is why he believes housing development – building more affordable rentals and homes for the Cape’s workforce – is the region’s primary need. “We know Barnstable is short 1,200 rental units,” he said.
Hebert supports HAC because he understands it is best suited to address this need. “We have to build so many rentals and we are so far behind. I don’t know of any other organization that can do a better job and has the capacity to help than Housing Assistance Corporation,” he said.
With the completion of Sachem’s Path on Nantucket, HAC has developed more than 500 units of affordable housing since its inception. It is in the midst of constructing 44 apartments in Bourne and is in the planning stages of building eight affordable and workforce apartments in Hyannis.
Through the Cape Community Housing Partnership, a joint initiative between HAC and Community Development Partnership in Eastham, it is also providing community leaders and residents with the tools to boost affordable housing that is sorely needed in the region.