Harwich Ecumenical Council for the Homeless, Inc.
The Harwich Ecumenical Council for the Homeless, Inc. (HECH) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable corporation originally established in Harwich, Massachusetts to deal with a broad spectrum of homelessness issues. HECH’s main mission is to develop compassionate solutions to homelessness problems for families – especially those with children – living in Harwich and the surrounding communities of Cape Cod.
HECH manages 44 affordable rental apartments and houses in Harwich, Dennis and Yarmouth, Massachusetts as well as emergency rehabilitation and rental assistance programs. In addition, HECH operates an ability-to-pay-based daycare pre-school facility for up to 26 children, and also provides certain counseling and homelessness prevention referral services to families and individuals on Cape Cod.
• In November of 1990, a group of Harwich clergy and lay people formed the Harwich Ecumenical Council for the Homeless, Inc. (HECH) in response to the fact that over 100 Cape families were homeless and living in motels and shelters.
• 1990 – Created the concept of taking welfare families out of motels, and with the support of local churches, placing them in rental housing. Virtually changed the welfare housing system in Massachusetts.
• 1992 – Initiated new legislation leading to “Project Prevention”, which is now administered by the Housing Assistance Corporation, and which has become a state-wide and national assistance model.
• 1993 – Established the Children’s Community Center – a low cost preschool program for local needy families – in donated space with space for less than 10 kids. Now called The Children’s Center, with a permanent home at 115 Sisson Road in Harwichport, over 27 children are served with many others wait-listed.
• 1995 – Embarked on a house- and duplex-buying program to acquire rental properties, both to house clients and to help support other programs.
• 1997 – Introduced a 24-hour answering service, together with a referral and advice network, both of which enhance HECH’s capacity to provide initial counseling on homelessness issues. The problem of always-scarce assistance resources was tackled by the establishment of an Emergency Assistance Fund in 2009.
• 1997 – Assisted local clergy in launching the Harwich Ecumenical Youth Ministries by employing a Youth Chaplain to provide crisis intervention, counseling and other services to troubled teens and their families. At year-end 2009, the Cape Cod Ecumenical Youth Ministry was transferred to a permanent home with the Lutheran Services organization.
• 2000 to 2010 – Steadily added to HECH’s rental unit portfolio, both by acquisition and new development projects. With the recent development of two state-of-the-art, concentrated, more efficiently manageable housing complexes (adding 22 new units), HECH now provides some 44 affordable rental apartments in Harwich, Dennis and Yarmouth.
Main office number: (508) 432-0015
The HECH office is located on the 3rd floor of the West Harwich Professional Building, 120 Route 28 in West Harwich, approx. one half mile from the Dennis border heading east on Rt 28, on the right hand (south) side. Click here for a Google Map / Directions.
Mary* lost her home to a fire. She found herself faced with trying to find an affordable year round rental. She contacted every local housing agency only to find nothing available. Affordable housing has been increasingly hard to find for years, and the pandemic exacerbated this crisis. For months she searched for housing, staying with friends or in her car. Just when she thought there was no hope her prayers were answered, HECH was able to offer her a 1 bedroom apartment and now Mary has a place to call home again.
“Everyone did a wonderful job bringing my home back to a safe and livable condition. I want to thank HECH for literally helping me to stay in my home. I had nowhere to turn and didn’t know what I would have done had I not found your program.”