Founded in 1969, RCAP Solutions (then named Rural Housing Improvement or RHI) started as a “delegate agency” under the Montachusett Opportunity Council (MOC). Through the work of Representative Silvio Conte and Senator Edward Kennedy, RHI was awarded a $140,000 federal start-up grant and was initially staffed largely with VISTA Volunteers. RHI’s original service area included 7 towns in northern Worcester County.
During its first decade, RHI grew rapidly in size and scope. Within three years, RHI leveraged over $2 million in home mortgage financing, completed and/or helped finance over 160 units of housing, completed and began managing our first multi-family housing development, began providing housing counseling, and began administering federal rental subsidies. By the mid-70’s, RHI’s service area expanded to 60 communities, and RHI became the primary administrator of rental subsidies in Central Massachusetts.
In 1978, RHI emerged from beneath MOC’s umbrella to become an independent 501(c)3 and joined forces with 6 other non-profits to create the “Massachusetts Non-Profit Housing Association” (now known as the Regional Housing Network).
Also, in 1978, RHI was selected by the “National Demonstration Water Project” to provide training and technical assistance to rural communities in New England. The program was expanded, and RHI became 1 of the 6 organizations comprising the RCAP network, expanding our service area to include 9 northeast states and the Caribbean.
In the 1980’s, RHI stayed committed to single-family housing by helping families secure USDA and HUD mortgages, pioneered an FHA Self Help Housing program, and initiated the Rural Revolving Loan Fund (which has become the home repair loan program). The 80’s also brought a commitment to developing and managing HUD 202 elderly housing developments.
The 1990’s were marked with relative stability and growth of key services, including water and wastewater technical assistance, administering rental subsidies, expansion of affordable elderly housing, and domestic violence transitional housing.
The following decade brought with it the emergence of a de-leading loan fund and a home modification loan fund, which allowed families with elderly or disabled family members to make modifications to address accessibility issues. Having evolved from a small affordable housing provider to a multi-state organization leveraging millions for communities, administering millions more in state and federal low-income housing subsidies, and with CDFI status, the time seemed right for RHI to reconsider its mission and with that, changed its name to RCAP Solutions in 2003.
RCAP Solutions Financial Services added a new business lending program and in 2011, was named the “Top Microlender of 2011” by Massachusetts SBA. The team of lenders offered extensive experience and commitment to the mission of providing loans to those who may not qualify through traditional lending sources.
In 2011, RCAP was also selected to administer the State’s HomeBASE program, a homelessness prevention program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. This allowed RCAP to further support our mission of improving the quality of life for individuals, especially the many families that suffered due to loss of income or employment in a difficult economy.
In 2012, RCAP expanded its Worcester office to better service the growing needs in the Central Massachusetts and Southern Worcester county region. The new space incorporated appropriate intake areas along with enhanced classroom and meeting space for training and workshops, computer space for clients along with support services, creating wraparound services for those in need of RCAP’s assistance.
Over the next several years, the organization continued to grow with new Housing Consumer Education Center programs providing housing counseling and referrals to community resources. Expanded rural community programs included private well assessments, income surveys, GIS mapping services and regional collaboration efforts led to significant growth in staffing and organizational structure. In 2017, the catastrophic results of hurricanes in the Caribbean compounded by other natural disasters in the region led the organization to became involved in disaster preparedness, recovery, and emergency rehousing initiatives.
With the ever increasing demands for homelessness prevention assistance such as Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), new interest in financial lending programs, property management services, community development initiatives and workforce development, certification and financial wellness workshops, it became clear that the organization needed to expand into larger space. This led to the headquarter relocation to 191 May Street, Worcester, MA and consolidation of the Gardner corporate office and several local field offices in 2019.
The move is part of a strategic plan to expand services to satisfy the increasing demand for improved community assistance. These services include safe and affordable housing; clean water, wastewater, and infrastructure programs; economic and workforce development; and education and training. The opening of the new location provides a spring board for the next generation of RCAP Solutions’ enhanced services, and embraces the strategic sustainability of the future, as the organization kicks off a year of celebrating its 50th Anniversary.