HCA Newsletter

On this page we share HCA’s most recent monthly newsletter.

Those who need translation can select their language from the menu on the upper right. Enjoy!

Sa a pèmèt moun ki bezwen tradiksyon li nan pwòp lang yo lè yo chwazi lang yo nan meni ki anlè dwat. Jwi!

Esto permite a quienes necesitan traducción leerlo en su propio idioma seleccionando su idioma en el menú en la esquina superior derecha. ¡Disfrutar!

这样,那些需要翻译的人就可以通过从右上角的菜单中选择自己的语言来以自己的语言阅读。享受!

June 2024 Fundraising Appeal (June Newsletter Below)

Dear Friend,

I want to share the story of Sherika, one of HCA’s emerging organizational leaders. I hope you’ll donate today in Sherika’s honor, and to support families like hers who need affordable housing.

Several years ago, Sherika was raising her young son alone, and she was out of work. She filled out so many affordable housing applications…but found nothing. Eventually, she and her son went into a shelter.

While living in the shelter, Sherika found a good job — but with that income she didn’t qualify to stay in the shelter! She needed an affordable apartment, and fast.

Sherika got lucky. Just when she needed it, her name came to the top of HCA’s waiting list! At first, their 2-bedroom HCA apartment was spare; Sherika couldn’t afford more than the basics. But after she got her tax refund that first year, she made it cozy — she made it a home. Her son had struggled, going from their old apartment to the shelter, but now he could feel settled.

It takes creativity and determination for single parents like Sherika to make ends meet. Our economy has recovered for some, but for many others, the crazy rise in housing costs and their stagnating wages just don’t add up.

“Where would I be if I hadn’t found the HCA apartment?

HCA is for families like mine who went through a struggle. I’m so glad my son and I landed in Arlington, and now I can also help build community.”

Sherika Williamson,
HCA Tenant
HCA Tenant Council Steering Committee

HCA is a community of people who care about Arlington and want to see everyone in our town thrive. I hope that you will donate again now — as the housing crisis grows  to ensure that our community can keep providing affordable homes for parents like Sherika.

Sherika and her son love their affordable apartment. Sherika also wants to connect with her neighbors and build community. When she heard that HCA was helping tenants form a tenant council she joined the Tenant Council Steering Committee.

The stability of her HCA apartment allows Sherika to contribute her leadership to HCA and the community at large.

How many other single moms remain in shelter?
How many other families can’t pay their rent?
What contributions do the rest of us miss out on because they are too stressed, trying to make ends meet, to participate in community life?
Left: Sherika at the Boston Statehouse.
Right: Sherika presenting at a Tenant Council meeting.
When you give to HCA, you help build affordable homes, and you build a stronger, more just community. Please donate as generously as you can today.

The housing issue is as important as it’s ever been. Rents in Arlington shot up by 32% between 2020 and 2023. Only 20% of renters throughout Massachusetts can afford new market-rate rental housing today.

Just as rents have risen for local families, costs have also risen for HCA. Please consider increasing your gift this year.  HCA’s work is stronger and more dynamic than ever. But we need to raise more funds than in prior years to sustain the work and meet the needs.

Your donation will ensure that we can keep creating and maintaining affordable housing, providing vital social services, and doing the civic engagement that led to Sherika’s leadership.

Please give today in order to:

  • Create Arlington’s very first 100% solar-powered affordable unit! This prefabricated accessory dwelling unit on Dorothy Road will be completed this summer.
  • Support the development of our next building! We hope to start construction on our 43-unit all-electric, Passive House (highly energy efficient) affordable housing development on Sunnyside Ave in early 2025.
  • Meet the high demand of HCA’s Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP). More and more families can’t afford their rent. During 2024 we expect to distribute well over $100,000 of HPP funds. We will also help families access a wide range of other vital services to remain stable in their homes.
  • Engage tenants in local leadership. We can’t create a more equitable community if those directly impacted by the problems aren’t helping to lead the solutions. HCA is raising tenant voices on our Board of Directors, in the HCA Tenant Council, with advocacy for state housing policy, and via participation on town issues.

Please send your check — or go online — and give as generously as you can for a more affordable, inclusive, and vibrant Arlington. Sherika and I thank you!

Sincerely,

Erica Schwarz
Executive Director

P.S. The need has grown and HCA’s costs have also risen. Please increase your gift this year by at least 20% to help HCA meet the current cost of the work that you value.

P.P.S. HCA was awarded another $200,000 in Community Investment Tax Credits in 2024! Your gift of at least $1,000 will result in a 50% rebate from the state when you file your state taxes. Donate $5,000, get $2,500 back. Donate $2,000, get $1,000 back. Contact me to learn more: ESchwarz@housingcorparlington.org or 781-859-5294 x1.

June 2024 Newsletter

What an Awesome Walk for Affordable Housing!

Clouds and chill can’t keep the HCA community from turning out for affordable housing! On May 19th, nearly 100 people gathered at Jason Russell House for the Walk for Affordable Housing. The crowd included representatives from some of our many sponsors, like Leader Bank and Cambridge Savings Bank, as well as State Rep Sean Garballey, a group from the Arlington Public Libraries, folks from nearby communities who learned about the walk and wanted to support the cause, Arlington tenants organizing with City Life Vida Urbana, and many other Arlington residents, including HCA tenants.

Everyone gathered enjoyed chatting with friends and neighbors. There was also food, music from JP Honk Band, and entertainment from stilt walker Sir Danny Drake. There was also an activity to share why we care about affordable housing and a chance to fill out a postcard to advocate for TOPA*, which is important state housing legislation.

The group was welcomed by Neal Mongold, HCA’s President, Erica Schwarz, the Executive Director, and Danielle Chery, a member of HCA’s Board of Directors and an HCA tenant. Neal expressed appreciation for everyone who attended and thanked our sponsors and others. Erica highlighted HCA’s current housing work – including on Dorothy Rd and Sunnyside Ave, and how much they are needed given the ongoing housing crisis. Danielle talked about the importance of affordable housing for her family and for the community at large.

At one pm, led by the honk band and three fearless kids holding the HCA banner, the group headed out for boisterous walk down Mass Ave. Walkers held Walk for Affordable Housing signs for all to see. We came to Arlington Center where we chanted for affordable housing and the band led us in more songs. We waved to cars and made noise for affordable housing! Then we walked along Mass Ave again, back to the Jason Russell House. The day wrapped up with an announcement of raffle prize winners and a hearty thank you to all who attended.

Thank you to our many sponsors and food and raffle item donors, who are listed on our website. And to everyone who participated! you made it a great day!

* Our advocacy helped! On June 5th, the Mass House of Representatives passed the Affordable Housing Act – a huge bill with a lot of funding and programs for affordable housing…including TOPA (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase)!  We are hopeful that this important bill will pass through the full legislature after it is reviewed by the MA Senate. It would give tenants or their designee (like a nonprofit or housing authority) the right of first refusal to buy their building and preserve it as affordable housing if the owner of the building puts it up for sale. 

Learn About Accessory Dwelling Units on June 12th:
Including HCA’s affordable ADU!
The Town of Arlington and Equitable Arlington are hosting an informational panel discussion about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) — and HCA’s ADU on Dorothy Road will be featured!

Wednesday, June 12 at 7:30 pm on Zoom

This webinar is designed for anyone interested in learning more about what defines an ADU and the process for constructing one on their property.

Topics will include a background on Arlington’s ADU article, a breakdown of the applicable zoning regulations to understand where an ADU can be built, guidance on the permitting process, cost estimates and considerations, and a case study presented by the Housing Corporation of Arlington detailing our experience constructing a 100% electric, 2-bedroom Affordable Housing ADU at 40-42 Dorothy Road.

Learn more and register to attend:
Accessory Dwelling Unit Webinar: What’s an ADU and How Do I Build One? | Board Calendar | Town of Arlington (arlingtonma.gov)

OTHER HCA HOUSING NEWS:

HCA’s other housing development also continues to advance
Learn about 10 Sunnyside Ave on our website

HCA Went to the Statehouse

In Mid May HCA staff, board members and tenants joined many others at the statehouse in Boston to advocate for money and programs to support community development work across the state. We were with the Mass Association of CDCs, the trade organization for all of the many organizations like HCA that are working hard across our state on afforable housing and other community development efforts.

We met with staff of Rep Dave Rogers and Senator Cindy Friedman and with Sean Garballey. We advocated for the transfer tax, TOPA, CITC and many other bills that would provide more funding or better laws in order to advance affordable housing and more equitable communities.

Learn more about the items that HCA has endorsed on HCA’s advocacy page
And from the MACDC Legislative Agenda page

There is one major piece of legislation that will pass by July 31st called the Affordable Homes Act. The items we are advocating for must be included in that large piece of legislation when it passes, or they will not become law. The Affordable Homes Act was passed by the MA House in early June and is now being considered by the MA Senate.

If you want to receive alerts over the next 6 weeks in order to advocate for important housing items to be included in the Affordable Homes Act, please email: info@HousingCorpArlington.org

Honoring Juneteenth, Pride Month, & Caribbean-American Heritage Month

Juneteenth is our country’s newest federal holiday, only becoming recognized in 2021, although many African Americans have celebrated this date for well over 150 years.

Juneteenth, which takes place on June 19th, represents the day in 1865 when the state of Texas was forced to free the enslaved people that lived there, which totaled roughly 250,000 individuals. Those people had remained enslaved despite President Lincoln singing the Emancipation Declaration, which was supposed to free all enslaved people as of Jan 1, 1863. However, many areas of the country, including Texas, refused to cooperate.

Once this news came to the enslaved people in Texas and they were able to embody their freedom, the day became a day of celebration in the African-American communities of Texas, and it spread to Black communities in the rest of the country..

It is so important to remember and to celebrate this day; we must remind ourselves that our history is not so far in the past, and that — even when it seems a freedom is won, we may have to keep fighting to ensure that freedom is shared by all. Making Juneteenth a federal holiday says that we as a nation acknowledge where we have been, and that we recognize the importance of all members of our society. Learn more.

Pride Month, which celebrates those who identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, started as an effort to resist discrimination and to advocate for legal protections for the community. The first Pride celebration occurred in 1969, as a response to a police raid at Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, and the following protests. Pride month and LGBTQ+ activism have made serious inroads into providing legal protections for those in the community. Gay marriage was not legalized in the US until 2015(!), less than 10 years ago. It was not even legalized in our progressive state of Massachusetts until 2004. Still, while gay marriage is legally protected in the US, there are still those who don’t believe in the validity of gay marriage and there are even those who oppose it.

In some states, teachers can be fired for mentioning that gay people exist. Bans of books that touch on anything even though to be about gay people are growing. Pride Month helps to destigmatize the range of human gender expression and sexuality, to show that people from all walks of life are members of the LGBTQ+ community, and that being an ally means supporting your neighbor, your sibling, or your coworker. Pride month is about teaching acceptance of everybody, and we can all learn from that. Learn more.Caribbean-American Heritage Month celebrates the cultural contributions of Caribbean-Americans every June. Caribbean nations tend to be small in size, but their cultural contributions in America have been huge. Think about what David Ortiz has done for the city of Boston, what Shirley Chisholm – the first Black US Member of Congress – has done for politicians all over the country, or what Celia Cruz has done for Latin music. There are over 5 million Caribbean-Americans living in the US, having descended from many different nations including Trinidad, Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Barbados and from Puerto Rico, which is part of the US. Many Black Americans in Greater Boston (and in Arlington) have a Caribbean heritage. This month we can pause to appreciate and celebrate all of the cultural diversity that comes from those island nations and places, and that enriches our country and our local community. Learn more.

STAY TUNED!

HCA’s Spring-Summer Fundraising Campaign is kicking off soon!

Keep an eye out for a letter in the mail, or an email, and please give as generously as you can at that time.

THANKS!