HAC Seeks Vineyard Home to House Homeless

HYANNIS – Housing Assistance Corporation is seeking a year-round home to rent or purchase on Martha’s Vineyard to house chronically homeless adults.

The organization was awarded a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and must find a residence with four or five bedrooms by the end of the year to receive the funding.

A portion of the grant would also be used to fund a case manager who would work with the five adults in the home.

HAC Director of Community Relations Laura Reckford said the organization has been looking for a home that fits the grant requirements for the last six months.

“We had a couple of possibilities, as we know it is so tricky with real estate in this area and some things we thought would happen fell through,” Reckford said. “So we are making a last ditch effort to do this.”

Reckford said there is a need for a home to house the homeless on the island even if it is not always out in the open.

“Just as they are on the Cape, they are not always the visible homeless. They are not always sleeping on the streets where you can see them,” she said. “They are often doubling and tripling up in houses. They are sleeping in their cars. They are sleeping in tents in woods.”

Reckford said the issue is prevalent on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod.

HAC applied for the HUD grant after they opened up an office on the Vineyard to offer its various services and staff noticed the issue getting worse.

The first winter the organization had a part-time staffer on the island a homeless man living in the woods died from exposure to the cold weather.

“So that stepped up our thinking about how can we help with the homelessness issue on the Vineyard,” Reckford said.

HAC used a similar model in Falmouth last winter in conjunction with Falmouth Human Services. A home was rented and was used to house several homeless individuals while the organization worked to find them permanent residences.

“We’d love to do that in all 15 towns on the Cape,” Reckford said.

Family homeless shelters are run in Hyannis, Falmouth and Cataumet.

HAC has hired Edgartown resident Rebecca Jamieson as its new Homeless Case Manager on the island.

“Being a life-long Vineyard resident she knows firsthand how difficult it is over on the Vineyard to find housing,” Reckford said.

Jamieson will assist those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness by connecting them to services they need to ensure they have safe and secure housing.

She is available to assist individuals on the island Monday through Wednesday at Dukes County Regional Housing Authority on State Road in Vineyard Haven.

The part-time position is being funded through a grant from the Cape and Islands United Way.

Jamieson can be contacted by phone at 508-367-0005 or by email to rtownes@haconcapecod.org.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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