RCAP Solutions Partnering with USDA to Help Very-Low-Income, Rural Homeowners with Funding to Repair, Improve, and Modernize Their Houses

RCAP Solutions Partnering with USDA Rural Development to Help Very-Low-Income, Rural Homeowners with Funding to Repair, Improve, and Modernize Their Houses

Full Press Release

RCAP Solutions and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (Southern New England Region) are proud to announce a partnership between our two agencies in helping very-low-income, rural homeowners with funding to repair, improve, and modernize their houses.

The USDA’s Section 504 Home Repair Program provides funding in the form of a 1% fixed-interest loan up to $40,000 to complete single-family home repairs or to remove health and safety hazards. In addition, applicants 62 years of age or older are eligible for a $10,000 grant. The loan and grant may be combined for up to $50,000 in assistance. In order to quality for assistance, the family must be very-low-income and live in an eligible rural area. You can visit the USDA Income and Property Eligibility website for complete details.

RCAP Solutions will be acting as a “loan packager” on behalf of USDA Rural Development and eligible homeowners; performing credit checks for applicants, providing guidance on bids and repairs that need to be made, and ensuring all documents listed in the application checklist are submitted.

USDA Rural Development’s Single Family Home Repair Loans and Grants are a perfect complement to RCAP Solutions’ Home Modification Loan Program (HMLP), which provides funding to homeowners to make accessibility changes to keep themselves or a family member with a disability or mobility impairment living comfortably in their own home. Loans are 0% interest and can range from $1,000 to $50,000.

RCAP Solutions has been administering HMLP since 2000 in collaboration with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC). The program has generous income guidelines and allows for accessibility renovations based on the household member’s medical need. HMLP can benefit anyone in the house who has a disability or mobility impairment; the homeowner themself, their child, or an elderly family member. Possible home modifications can include ramps, stair lifts, walk-in bathtubs, and much more.

RCAP Solutions has a long-standing relationship with numerous federal and state branches of the USDA. The department is one of RCAP Solutions primary partners and funders directly involved in the implementation of our Community & Environmental Resources programs.

RCAP Solutions’ 2023 Impact Report – Paving the Path Forward!

In 2023, RCAP Solutions continued to gain momentum as we shifted our focus from the pandemic and began to strategically plan for the next phase of our organization. Navigating the dynamic landscapes of our service industry, it is essential to assess our current position and anticipate our future direction. View our 2023 Impact Report to learn more about last year’s accomplishments and check out stories from the people we serve!

Amid programmatic expansion, staff growth, and new partnership opportunities, it was ideal to prioritize strategic planning initiatives and envision the future of RCAP Solutions. Our enthusiastic board of directors collaborated closely with an engaged management team to address internal and external challenges, successes, and opportunities, positioning our organization for continued success.

We thank our partners and continued supporters and invite you to join us as we pursue a collective vision of a world made up of strong and resilient communities and individuals, confident in their potential and with ownership of their success.

We look forward to a productive 2024 as we remain steadfast in our commitment to fulfilling our mission: To foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and the communities in which they live.

Julie Carroll, RCAP Solutions Board Member

Julie Carroll is a human resources and operations professional with more than 25 years of experience in diverse business environments. She joined the RCAP Solutions Board in July of 2022.

Her portfolio includes proven achievements in business operations management, risk management, employee relations, training, and development. She is a self-starter; dependable, highly motivated and a thorough performer with a demonstrated ability to work with all levels of management to design, develop and implement strategies to improve business and employee performance, and can effectively inspire others to achieve individual and corporate goals. Julie is also a Real Estate Sales Agent with Keller Williams Realty, Inc. and brings community development experience as a former planning board member for the town of Boxborough, MA.

Julie began her career in the areas of finance and operations. Working in an entrepreneurial small business environment for a family-owned company, she found herself moving into a human resources role, bringing the organization together working with benefits, employee handbooks and enjoyed supporting the employees. “I felt challenged in that arena,” she noted. “I could hone my skills in that area and used strategy to focus on the employee experience. As a result, my career evolved, and I went on to own and operate a small HR outsourcing company for several years.”

Julie received her AAS in Liberal Studies at Middlesex Community College in Bedford, MA, and a Professional Human Resources (PHR) certification from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) in Alexandria, VA. She brings a wide range of specialties in operations, HR implementation, employer and employee regulations, small business operations and employee engagement to her role as board member.

When asked what she is passionate about, Julie responded “I find that what I’m enthusiastic about has evolved.” She continued “I really enjoy creating experiences with friends and family. I enjoy being outdoors, doing things like gardening, kayaking, and boating in summer, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in winter. I really appreciate being outdoors. My passion is in creating a fuller life as I mature. I want to have experiences with my family and grandchildren.”

Julie has found that it is important to achieve a work-life balance and be there for both family and work. “My greatest accomplishment is my family,” she noted. “The resilience I have experienced with my mom getting Multiple Sclerosis and taking care of her, along with the loss of my brother, my personal triumph is in raising my family. I was able to achieve much of my growth in my career without needing a big educational base to launch from. I feel immensely proud of my achievements.”

Julie was attracted to becoming involved at RCAP Solutions because of the housing programs, which she believes are essential for success. “Personally, I saw my mom go back into the workforce after not working for many years,” she commented. “Seeing how RCAP provides housing services is paramount to resetting someone in a difficult position. Empowering people beyond just providing vouchers was intriguing to me, I felt I could relate and have good insight.”

Julie went on to say “RCAP’s mission of improving the quality of life for individuals, giving them what they need are tools for success.” She stated, “I am very big on accountability, and I believe that ownership of that success and vision, and ownership of your actions is a good balance with self-reliance and self-sufficiency. The financial literacy and first-time homebuyer workshops and other housing services provide the benefit of giving, and seeing the ripple effects it can create for people, really relates to my core values.”

Julie noted that her skills and expertise complement RCAP’s mission. “My mindset aligns with the board’s work, strategic planning, creating success, evaluating overall performance is very parallel with HR. I can relate to what you are doing, being able to add to that strategic insight and HR, both sides are human capital. Helping people solve a problem and see success.” When asked about her experience volunteering on RCAP Solutions’ board, she observed “RCAP is open, inviting, educational, and what we are doing is huge. It’s not an intimidating environment and without any background, someone can come in and sit comfortably on the board and be able to provide their skills and benefit the organization.”

Julie has been involved in RCAP’s recent strategic planning process and has enjoyed seeing that come to fruition. “It was much needed,” she noted. “I have spent a lot of time with entrepreneurs, telling businesses that they needed to re-strategize, work on goals, and focus on expectations and communications styles. Being a part of this process and hearing feedback from employees and partners has been beneficial. Strategic planning is a monumental rock, and for any organization, it’s like pushing it up a hill. I feel like I can continue to contribute to this area as it is similar to what I do as a consultant, and I can support the organization in that capacity. As we continue and finalize this process, that is something that we will all be enormously proud of.”

Julie’s full bio can be found on our website.

Learn more about water quality improvement techniques, contaminants of concern, small systems resilience, and steps your system can take to avoid costly violations! Your utility faces day-to-day challenges in providing reliable, safe drinking water for your customers. The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) in conjunction with the American Water Works Association (AWWA) is offering this online training for water operators and managers.

Math is an integral part of drinking water and wastewater operations and is often one of the hardest topics to master. This course will review basic math concepts, tactics for solving problems, and provide practice applying the concepts to solve examples.

Math is an integral part of drinking water and wastewater operations and is often one of the hardest topics to master. This course will review basic math concepts, tactics for solving problems, and provide practice applying the concepts to solve examples.

Math is an integral part of drinking water and wastewater operations and is often one of the hardest topics to master. This course will review basic math concepts, tactics for solving problems, and provide practice applying the concepts to solve examples.

‘Twas Mid December at RCAP Solutions…

‘Twas Mid-December and all through the skies,
RCAP teams with care and wise.
In every office, staff worked with glee,
Offering essential aid, as busy as can be.

The needy many, deserving of cheer,
In this season of giving, their hopes draw near.
For when the demand rises, so great and so clear,
RCAP’s dedication shines, year after year.

In our Housing Consumer Education Center,
We make sure every client has a supportive mentor,
To assist in all aspects of home ownership and leasing,
In case you should see a problem increasing,
If a concern should arise, there’s lending or training,
Should you find your bank account suddenly draining.

With Subsidized Housing, we help pay the rent,
Offering programs for both landlord and tenant.
Everyone deserves a safe home and a bed,
Where each family member can rest their head.
We can also assist with housing mobility,
And case management for economic stability.

Our Housing for Seniors and the Mobility Impaired,
Offers features and services that can’t be compared.
Our professional staff is supportive and giving,
With countless services for independent living.
For those who reside in RCAP’s great care,
Our teams will provide for ALL who live there.

Our Environmental Crew work with communities to ensure,
The water that pours from the tap is pure.
From Maine to Pennsylvania, we offer technical assistance,
For those in rural regions, we’ll travel the distance.
Whether it’s wastewater, mapping, training, and more,
We’ll assess your infrastructure, and help settle the score.

The Caribbean Team helps the islands with pollution,
Teaching about recycling, and solid waste solutions.
We offer disaster planning, and prepare for the future,
Should climate change impact your region and need suture.
Financial assistance for septic or well repair,
We’re here for our communities, never despair!

Here in Massachusetts, we’re Advocating for Change,
For private well homeowners, who may need a range,
Of regulations for education, testing, and support,
Should their water tests come up short,
And need repair to keep families in good health,
For every resident, across the Commonwealth.

Our Administrative Staff provides support to our programs,
IT keeps us online, and safely protected from scams.
Finance cuts checks and keeps the books in balance,
HR supports the organization, hiring people with talents.
Marketing ensures the public is in the know,
And Development guarantees that funding won’t slow.

In the Northeast our influence spreads, far and wide in stride,
In Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, forever shall we reside.
Fostering community’s power, potential, a bond we unify,
In this commitment, our focus and unity lie.

Nurturing strength, resilience, and confidence, our gift to bestow,
Supporting individuals, families, communities, helping them grow.

Timothy Grinham, RCAP Solutions Board Member

Timothy Grinham, a Commercial Banking and Lending Specialist at S&P Global Market Intelligence, joined the RCAP Solutions Board of Directors in July of 2022.

Headquartered in New York City, S&P Global is a world-wide leader providing financial services information. Tim works in their Market Intelligence division, working with financial institutions under $5 Billion in Total Assets on workflow automation and commercial prospecting.

Tim has a professional background in technology, banking, lending, real estate, and brings over 20 years of experience in finance, investment, and sales management to his role on the board. He has extensive knowledge of working with federal funding sources, financing, managing customer accounts and portfolios, developing business opportunities, customer service, and training.

When asked what he likes to do with his free time, Tim responds, “For me, it’s all about family time. I spend as much time as possible with my wife and my two daughters and am excited to be coaching my daughters in soccer and basketball.” In his spare time, he enjoys reading, catching up on current events, banking news and the stock market.

Tim was drawn to the banking profession almost by accident. “When I graduated in 2002, I walked into a large recession due to 9/11,” he stated. “There was not much activity going on in the job market, so I stumbled into the mortgage industry. It was a good opportunity with rates dropping and I was able to get into refinancing existing debt. I began the first part of my career in the residential market and later became involved in commercial banking.”

He had always wanted to pursue a career in technology, and in his current position, he is able to draw from his previous experience working with banks, credit unions, and smaller institutions, providing them with technological solutions for their information service needs.

Tim received his BA in Business Management from Johnson State College in Johnson, VT. His volunteer experience includes board membership with Worcester Community Housing Resources, the Town of Paxton Capital Improvements Committee, and as a mentor for SBA workshops and business incubation companies in and around MA.

When asked what Tim feels his greatest professional achievement is, he mentioned the impact that banking and commercial lending can have in the community. “We moved to the Worcester area in 2014,” he stated. “I was very excited to start a position lending with a bank located in downtown Worcester. Over the course of the next several years, I was able to be a part of the Worcester economy during a growth period. I take a lot of pride when traveling through Worcester and seeing the businesses that I worked with throughout my career and knowing that I had a small part in the positive impact on the area. I find it extremely rewarding to drive around the city with my family and say, ‘I worked on that building, or I or helped to finance those renovations.’”

He went on to say, “What I miss most about banking is the positive involvement in the community, which is what drew me to RCAP Solutions. I want to support the work the organization does in both the urban and rural areas of the region.”

Tim believes “it’s critically important to serve both markets, especially in these times of economic uncertainty, when there are factors outside of our control.” He went on to say, “RCAP is a great organization to be involved in. Because of the range of programs, we have an opportunity to serve many communities and a diverse client base.

As a relatively new board member, Tim considers his time volunteering with RCAP to be a positive experience. “I’ve learned a lot about the services RCAP offers,” he states. “When I came to the organization, I was familiar with the housing and lending services. Now that I have really gotten involved, I’m extremely impressed with how much the organization and staff accomplishes.” He has enjoyed getting to know the board members and employees. “I think the staff is incredible,” he remarked. “They work hard and do an excellent job. I have really appreciated learning more about the teams and their programs.”

Tim looks forward to completing the year-long strategic planning process that the organization is undergoing. “I anticipate that once we’re implementing it, we will see the positive impact that it has on both the organization and the clients that we work with.” He concluded by saying “It’s just been a great experience, and I look forward to continuing to see the organization do great work.”

Tim’s full bio can be found on our website.

This class will be going over key areas of Lead and Copper Rule Revisions for Public Water Systems. The course includes lead and copper basics, covers regulatory requirements, action level and trigger levels, monitoring, treatment, public notification requirements and EPA improvements. Inventory and identification, lead service line replacements as well as funding options, and schools and childcare facilities will also be presented. This training is also helpful for potential water operators, PWS owners, managers, and board members.

Tracey Weeden, MSW, LCSW/LICSW; RCAP Solutions Board of Directors, Vice Chair

Tracey Weeden is the Executive Director of Brockton Behavioral Health Facility at Boston Medical Center and joined the RCAP Solutions Board of Directors in January of 2021.

She has extensive experience in the healthcare and nonprofit arena, with a background in administration, behavioral health, and homelessness prevention. In her previous position as Chief Operating Officer for First Step of Sarasota, she focused on affordable behavioral health treatment and system of care optimization. She also has experience managing a private practice as a psychotherapist.

Tracey was drawn to social work because of her childhood experiences growing up in an urban environment. She remarked “there was a lot of violence, parentification, mental illness, and substance misuse. But amid the prevalence of trauma, there was also so much hope for a better way of life. At an early age I was interested in other people’s stories and potential. When I went to college, I did not know what I wanted to do, but knew I wanted to break the cycle of oppression in the community I had grown up in. I majored in social work, and it just felt right. At an early age, I felt sensitive to others’ needs and seemed to be able to put myself in someone else’s shoes. Although I don’t make it a practice to disclose my experiences, oftentimes I deeply understand the barriers to quality of life clients experience.”

Tracey is a former employee of RCAP Solutions, where she was a member of the leadership team, as Director of Counseling and Homeless Services. “When I was at RCAP, I absolutely loved the work,” she commented. “Working at RCAP, I showed up 100% every day for the organization and our clients. They were long days, but it was all worth it. RCAP is deeply mission driven. RCAP’s services for people in need is undeniable. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a community, helping people where they are and supporting them as they move to a better place? RCAP’s work aligns with my values and everything I stand for as a social worker, a woman, and a woman of color.”

Tracey went on to say “RCAP’s work comes down to people helping people. This resonates with me and is what’s unique about RCAP. The employees genuinely want their clients to achieve a better quality of life. At RCAP we are paying it forward.”

Tracey feels strongly about being an active board member. “I want to be a real objective resource to the leadership team and a sounding board. I understand the culture and dynamics as a social worker and as a businesswoman.”

When talking about her experience serving on the board, Tracey exclaimed, “It’s been fun! I like the diverse expertise the volunteer team brings to the table. The board is open to looking at things differently and trying new ideas. This will determine the sustainability of the organization overall. The board is engaged, understands the impact of the work, and is realistic about what it takes to provide services. It’s very exciting to be a part of this energized board.”

When asked about her future goals for the organization, she replied, “I hope that a year from now we are in the process of implimenting a successful, operational, and people-driven strategic plan. I believe we can really put RCAP on the map as a leader in all aspects of community and environmental services.”

Tracey is a self-published author and has volunteered for the City of Worcester’s Human Rights Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s suicide prevention initiative. She is currently a Commissioner for the Massachusetts Status of Woman of Plymouth County. Tracey earned a MS in social work at Boston University and is working towards her Doctorate degree in Business Administration with a focus in Health Services Administration at Northcentral University. She brings a deep understanding of the programmatic, funding, and strategic needs of the organization, along with nonprofit leadership, fundraising and community outreach.

When asked about her personal and professional achievements, Tracey commented, “it was always a goal for me to do more of the work in helping others to grow and lift themselves out of traumatic environments. I’m proud of that. In this field of social work, there are not many Black People or Native Americans in leadership positions. I don’t see a lot of “me” represented and I will never take it for granted. I hope to be an example and to inspire others.”

In her free time, Tracey enjoys creating things. “I love candle making, jewelry making, upcycling furniture, gardening, and creating a new space in my yard or home. It helps me relax. Being creative helps me to think outside of the box overall. I enjoy focusing on the hobby and it’s extremely relaxing for me.”

A well-maintained system is crucial to protecting your drinking water quality and the surrounding environment. Surveys have shown that many of us know little about septic systems. Do you know where your septic system is located? Should you be concerned with how often your septic tank is pumped out? Can your septic system affect the water quality of your well? Do you know how to maintain a healthy septic system?
This webinar will cover basics of wastewater biology, soils, components of a conventional system, operation & maintenance and innovative/alternative systems. There will be time at the end of the webinar for questions.

This “Basic Math” course is a refresher course for those looking to brush up on their basic math skills, whether for daily operation calculations or in preparation for an operator’s exam. We will start at the beginning, quickly covering the basics of rounding, fractions, percentages, and geometry, then will spend a bit more time on conversion factors and re-arranging equations.

Case Study: From a Disadvantage to an Opportunity – Assessing Community Needs & Capacity

Written By: Matt Cassedy, Connecticut State Manager

BACKGROUND: Aging infrastructure is a reality for many communities facing needed projects and improvements. Asset management, inventory tools, GIS and funding programs have increased substantially to meet industry and community needs. Financially, these communities are experiencing larger projects with increasing project costs with longer terms ranging from 20-40 years. Many small communities have functioned without the need to consider larger projects that address entire distribution systems or treatment overhauls. Focusing on having a certified operator, emergency power, tank maintenance, pump replacement, lab testing, flushing, and dealing with emergencies have been consistent priorities. Priorities for many small communities have been added, replacing lead service lines and potentially sections of main pipe to remove lead sections and affected areas. Replacing services and primary piping is a large step in more ways than one. Often, for small communities, the location and available access to all the assets like service lines and mains are difficult, especially without ways to isolate or redirect water service to limit multiple customer impact. Large projects for small systems with limited revenue sources is where help is needed the most and where RCAP can help. For School Hill Water Association (School Hill) in Broad Brook, CT, the funding hurdles needed to address the infrastructure projects seemed too big. School Hill is a Public Water System (PWS) that serves 31 residential homes in Broad Brook, CT. Faced with major infrastructure replacement the board of School Hill sought assistance from CT State Revolving Fund (SRF). After reviewing the project, cost calculations, estimates and timeline the CT SRF loan department worked with School Hill and stakeholders on preliminary figures.

THE CHALLENGE: Funding programs that have a matrix for disadvantaged criteria look at specific data to assess the eligibility, approval, and terms of loans and programs. Official data used to assess the need for funding assistance don’t always accurately represent smaller communities. Broad Brook is a Census Designated Place (CDP) within the town of East Windsor, CT. The data used to represent School Hill would incorporate all Broad Brook CDP. CDPs are typically an identified area with a population concentration and used for statistical purposes. School Hill, as a PWS with only 31 homes, does not meet the same criteria to use census data from Broad Brook. School Hill needed data that represented a real financial snapshot and assessment based on their unique community data.

RCAP and CT SRF met and discussed School Hill’s project plans and RCAP services to provide a disadvantaged criteria assessment. Prior to the assessment, RCAP and CT SRF agreed that an income survey to the customers of School Hill water system would provide a much-needed piece in the assessment.

THE APPROACH & SOLUTION: RCAP Solutions worked with CT SRF and School Hill to provide an income survey to the community. The survey was completed within a month and a final report provided additional data used in the disadvantaged criteria assessment. The income survey targeted all 31 homes and resulted in statistically accurate and sound results used to determine community impact from proposed projects and loans. Additional consideration addressed user rates, operational fees, debt service, project information, loan data and economic trends. Between the start and completion of the assessment alone, costs from various vendors and suppliers were increased. The final income survey and disadvantaged criteria assessment provided real data, calculations, and considerations representative to the community of School Hill, so that CT SRF could make determinations on disadvantaged criteria loan terms.

THE IMPACT: Connecting programs and funds to communities that can benefit from much needed system improvements and upgrades is the center of what RCAP provides to small communities. Through technical, managerial, and financial assistance, RCAP works with industry partners, funders, and primacy agencies, to positively impact water communities. Within RCAP’s expertise there is no limit to how the application of services can build and sustain communities. With various state approaches to small and/or disadvantaged criteria, RCAP curtails outcomes and priorities to meet the unique needs of individuals and communities. RCAP’s essential role in water infrastructure improvements and healthy communities shows with improved infrastructure stability, operational resiliency, and community support.

RCAP Solutions’ 2022 Impact Report – A Year of Rejuvenation

2022 was a year marked by growth, development, and ultimately rejuvenation as RCAP Solutions began its rebound from a tumultuous and transformational time. View our 2022 Impact Report to learn more about last year’s accomplishments and check out stories from the people we serve!

We thank our partners and continued supporters and invite you to join us as we continue to work towards a collective vision of a world made up of strong and resilient communities and individuals, confident in their potential and with ownership of their success.

We look forward to a productive 2023 as we remain steadfast in our commitment to fulfilling our mission: To foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and the communities in which they live.

Need help managing your finances? Interested in developing a sustainable spending plan? At this workshop you will learn about managing personal finances and be empowered to make better decisions in order to achieve financial stability for yourself and your family!