THRIVE (Tools to Help Residents In a Vulnerable Economy)

THRIVE is a new program designed and created by Housing Assistance Corporation to address housing affordability and increase empowerment for households on Cape Cod. A shallow monthly rental subsidy is paired with required ongoing work with staff through our HUD Certified Housing Counseling Program with the goal of setting goals and working on financial empowerment. Funded through a combination of American Rescue Plan Act funds and donations from the United Way, United Way Board, and Bilezikian Family Foundation, this program helps bridge the gap between the resources available.

Given the long waitlist for housing subsidies, households who are currently unable to afford the cost of housing have no other program that offers continuous assistance over time. According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage calculator, the living wage required for a single parent of one child in Barnstable County went from $35.28 per hour in 2021 to $43.00 in 2022. Without additional assistance, households under 100% AMI will be unable to continue living and working on Cape Cod due to the increasing gap between wages and housing costs.

Cape Cod and Islands United Way
Bilezikian Family Foundation
Download the THRIVE flyer

Our solution is a program called THRIVE: a Workforce Housing Voucher, targeted to households living and working on Cape Cod.

Approved households would have a fixed shallow subsidy administered monthly to their landlord to increase the affordability of their housing costs. This assistance would be provided for a period of 12 months, renewable for an additional 12 months contingent on funding and meeting eligibility requirements. Participants would also be required to work with a HUD certified Housing Counselor to identify and track housing and financial goals that could be impacted by leveraging the funding from this program, with the end of program goal of reducing expenses and/or increasing household income. During a recent pilot for a similar program design, program participants were able to achieve various outcomes, including reducing debt, starting a savings account, improving credit, and/or creating a plan for eventual home ownership.

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FAQs

Currently our program is limited to households with at least one person who works in childcare or with the developmentally disabled, or those who live in the Town of Brewster. Please check back for updates as the program expands. Households must also:

    • Be invested in working with a Housing Counselor to work on financial goals
    • Be currently paying more than 30% of their income towards rent.
    • Have a written lease or rental agreement
    • Unit is not currently subsidized through another program
    • Not living in a housing unit owned by a relative, unless approved through admin review
    • Household member is employed in one of our target industries (Childcare/Disability) OR; household lives in the Town of Brewster and is under 100% Area Median Income

A shallow subsidy is a flat amount that is paid towards the households rent each month on their behalf. The amount does not change based on a household’s income and the household is responsible for paying the remainder of the rent each month. Unlike with a housing voucher, the amount provided does not automatically mean the household pays a specific percentage of their income towards rent and does not change if the household’s circumstances change.

A goal of this program is to work on financial or housing related empowerment goals that are individualized to the participant. This could be starting/increasing savings, paying down debt, preparing for home-ownership, improving credit. Goals are set directly with the Housing Counselor during an intake meeting.

Participant Goals

Decrease Debt

  • Catch up on past-due rent/utility bills and begin paying on time regularly
  • Start paying down credit card debt and break the cycle of only paying minimum payments

Improve Financial Health

  • Improve credit

  • Modify and establish a budget within current income

  • Start a savings account:

    • only for emergencies
    • to continue my education
    • for automatic deductions from my pay (even $1 per week)

Establish Housing

  • Purchase a house (within 2, 5 or 10 years)
  • Find a more affordable/secure rental home