Can you say a bit about your life and professional experience before coming to CAPSC?
Bob: I was a private residential contractor prior to coming to CAPSC.
In your own words, can you describe the Housing and Weatherization programs and the role that CAPSC plays?
Bob: The focus of our Housing Development is two-fold: First, we acquire, develop and promote affordable housing opportunities in Strafford County. As of May 2023, we are currently working on several projects, namely the Gafney Home project in Rochester which will provide affordable senior housing to area residents. Our second focus is the Weatherization Program which provides energy efficient improvements to qualified households. The goal of the program is to reduce the costs associated with heating and cooling the home while increasing the air quality for the occupants.
What inspired you to work in the housing program at a community action agency, and how did you get started in this field?
Bob: As a prior residential contractor I had experience related to home construction. The Weatherization Program provided extensive training in the field of energy efficiency, something that I had little experience in at the time. Drawing on my past experience in the building trades along with the energy efficiency training CAP provided has allowed me significantly help the community I serve.
Can you describe a successful project that you or someone on your team implemented to improve the energy efficiency of a home, and what was the outcome?
Bob: We have been involved with so many projects over the years, in both single family homes as well as large scale projects. Some of the most notable projects include Hope on Haven Hill’s main house, Abi’s Place, Dover Housing Authority, Rochester Housing Authority, Somersworth Housing Authority, Crosshill Housing and Gafney Home. Additionally there have been hundreds of single family homes I’ve been able to weatherize. The work I do typically involves heating system upgrades, insulation, maintenance and repair measures, appliance and lighting upgrades to Energy Star and sometimes window and door replacements if practical. Our goal is to make every project a success no matter the size or scope of work.
How do you stay up-to-date on changes in policies, regulations, and funding for housing assistance programs, and how do you apply this knowledge to improve program outcomes for clients?
Bob: The US Department of Energy requires certain certifications in order to perform this type of work. These certifications require continuing education throughout the year. I am an active participant in the Weatherization Assistance Program policy and procedures changes at the state level. I also attend monthly and annual meetings and conferences where I am able to keep abreast of program changes that may affect our agency.
Can you describe an experience in which CAPSC collaborated with other community partners, landlords and organizations to address housing-related issues?
Bob: One of our goals at CAPSC is to be the premier partner that other non-profits, agencies and municipalities turn to when trying to solve problems. Unfortunately, the lack of housing in Strafford County is an acute issue, which requires remedies on so many different levels. CAPSC has been very successful in partnering with the City of Dover, the City of Rochester and the City of Somersworth in implementing programs and projects that increase housing opportunities, provide assistance to homeless individuals and help homeowners and renters alike with the increasing costs of heating their homes and feeding their families.
What impact have you observed since the pause of NHERAP in October 2022?
Bob: Many families relied on NHERAP (New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program), particularly those whose rents increased due to market forces. We are seeing more people take up residence with parents and other family members. We are starting to see the average person per household increase and over time this trend will continue an upward movement due to an acute shortage of housing. Market forces will continue to increase the cost to both rent and purchase homes. The winding down of NHERAP will only exacerbate the problem.
(Note: Current NHERAP families will continue to receive assistance until April or June 1, depending on their eligibility. If you have questions about NHERAP please contact us with any questions!)
How has your experience at CAPSC shaped your perspective on the intersection of community responsibility and government funding when it comes to helping at-risk families?
Bob: As a military veteran, I can share with you what I witnessed in other places in the world and it isn’t pretty. We live in the richest and most powerful country in the world. None of our children or our neighbors should ever go to bed hungry or fear what tomorrow may bring. All of us have a responsibility to ensure all of us are safe, nourished and are treated with fairness and respect. Programs administered by CAPSC provide food, housing assistance, home improvement, transportation, education, childcare, fuel assistance and homeless outreach. I’m proud to be part of this organization and to work with some of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met. It’s all about helping each other. I came to CAPSC as a very conservative midwesterner. CAPSC opened my eyes to the things I was blind to, things that I didn’t want to know existed: Hunger, misery, hopelessness just to name a few. We fight battles every day here at CAPSC, we would not be able to fulfill the promise of our mission without government funding and donations we receive from local individuals and companies.