Posted on October 4, 2016
(On Friday, Sept. 23, public officials and funders celebrated the grand opening of Provincetown’s Stable Path, 23 affordable apartments developed by Community Housing Resource Inc. When officials were done speaking, resident Tracey Primavera delivered a heartfelt message about homelessness, self-discovery, community kindness and what having a home means to her and her dad. The following is an excerpted version of her speech).
PROVINCETOWN --- Every day as I shower, I offer this Buddhist prayer:
Last year, my dust and confusion were pretty mighty. I had several challenging health adventures. And my 84-year-old dad, Robert, who moved from New York to Orleans 12 years ago, began having health adventures too.
My finances were lacking and then I was told to leave my home by my landlady's daughter, who had taken over the property where I had lived for 14 years and where I had my massage business. I suddenly found myself homeless.
Shame betrayal and vulnerability were suddenly gifted to me so I began on this adventure of uncertainty. My gauge throughout was, “Tracey, you have two choices: you can become hardened towards yourself and other or you can become kinder and compassionate.”
I reckon that I learned in some moments I can find balance with both and that I am human and that I am doing the best I can. What a relief this was to finally accept.
I am a very independent human being, as I imagine most of you are. But I believe something deep inside of me guided me to a place bigger than myself as I needed to ask for help. I felt so broken and I remember telling a friend that all I have right now to offer is kindness. Today, I see that was a realization powerful beyond measure.
I needed to find my next home, my place of refuge, so I offered my vulnerability to the world. And it embraced me. Overwhelmingly. Love, kindness, generosity from this Provincetown community and beyond held me through this seemingly dark time and it's the only thing that got me through to this day.
I moved three times because I couldn't afford the rents. I saw that my former home was now being rented on homeaway.com for $171 a night, five nights minimum, more than what I had been paying per month. And I learned this wasn’t just happening to me, it was happening all over town. Many times I thought I would have to leave Provincetown.
I found myself taking refuge in one gorgeous home after another as friends allowed me to stay in their spare bedrooms. These friends liked me but not to this capacity. My car died and friends gifted me their jeep as well paying a year’s insurance. Gift cards, dinners, hugs, you name it, it came to me.
I would tell my dad about something someone did and he said, "No one does this. I have never seen anything like this in my life."
Well dad, I reckon you have never met what community actually means and what it is like to live in Provincetown.
Finally, one day, I walked into the Community Housing Resource office for a housing application, so very scared and reluctant and full of shame.
Just so you know, the word shame doesn't exist in some cultures. The Dalai Lama didn't know what it meant when someone told him they were full of shame. Often times, in ours and many cultures, shame is connected to monetary worth. This was my shame.
Over the years living in Provincetown, I’ve known many friends who are renting or owning homes created by Ted Malone and Community Housing Resource but I never ever imagined becoming a resident myself. No, no, not me. I could take care of myself. That’s what I was taught by this society and believed. Until now.
During this time, I also had to confront my dad dealing with his own health adventures down in Orleans. I believe intergenerational living is vital. Loneliness sucks, especially for older folks, and I wanted my dad to thrive. So we decided to live together and embarked on this kinda thrilling and somewhat overwhelming application process. Then our lottery number was called and we finally met with the people at Community Housing Resources.
Deep inside, even after winning the lottery, I still didn't believe that I belonged there. But they so humanely embraced me and my dad. During the interview process, everyone connected with us on a respectful professional business level but also on a sweet, gentle, fun level, sharing stories of turkeys eating your garden and genuine neighbor connections.
As you try to navigate the mighty housing crisis, which can be daunting, those conversations were so vital to my healing. I was being listened to by educated people with loving, unconditional hearts. What Community Housing Resources told me is, “you deserve to be here and to live here. You are respected and appreciated here and we want you to regain that sense of self respect and ultimately thrive and live in prosperity. We see you and you are OK. Actually, you are more than OK.”
All this empowered me and encouraged me to be an advocate for my housing adventure. It connected me to a diminished self who felt comfortable in deprivation and made me realize this is not who I am.
This is how me and my dad have landed in this stunning and safe place. Since Provincetown is one of the few art colonies in this country, it makes me realize that Stable Path is like living in a masterpiece.
It has the beautiful details of conscious living. The gentle street light posts. The mighty and abundant trees that have been saved. I hear these trees responding to the wind and honestly they sound like they are singing like they are joy-filled. It’s breathtaking.
The plants and bushes that have been chosen, the fences and the rocks that have been recycled and spread around the property, are all seamlessly supporting each other and us residents. Well water is used for gardening. Rain barrels at each home. My 84-year-old dad is now recycling. Wow!
I watch my neighbors. These are the folks that make up this town, go to work everyday to serve tourists to serve you, to serve us. This is the essence of community and what makes Provincetown magical to folks that love to vacation here, to have second, third, and fourth homes here. If housing isn't affordable, this will become what I call a pop-up summer resort. Workers will come from other places and leave when the season is over and the magic that is offered by year-rounders will disappear.
This is why the housing Community Housing Resource creates is so important. It’s a gift, a stunningly sweet space of community where we can discover that we need each other because I don't care who you are or how well you think, you have protected yourself from being in a vulnerable moment in your life. What happened to me could happen to you and the beauty of this happening is that it allows you to understand what it means to be a human being in this lifetime and to realize we all suffer and we all have great joy and we need each other.
So on June 29 last year, I moved out of my home of 14 years and this year, on June 29, I signed a lease with my dad to live here at gorgeous Stable Path. Wow! A year to the day. I reckon the Gods have had the last laugh about that.
So I am honored and grateful to be standing here today in the midst of all this generosity of spirit that is Stable Path, the place me and my dad now call home sweet home.
I realize now that last year happened to inform me of my continued desire to make this world a better place and Community Housing Resource is an example of this better place. I am the luckiest girl in the world that our paths, our Stable Paths have met.
In this moment, I want to offer thanks to the folks from the incredible organizations in this community who helped me and continue to help me. And before I start, I want to extend my deepest apologies to everyone whom I don't remember and am sadly leaving out. My dad said it is important to say everyone’s name. Oh gosh, I am so sorry!
• Thank you, HOW which stands for Helping Our Women: Wow, HOW, what an incredible gift you are to our community, you who so financially and whole heartedly held me through my health adventures and continue to do so to this day.
• Maggi Flanagan from the Homeless Prevention Council: Thanks for listening, encouraging and guiding me on the trajectory of homelessness with a gentle mighty and fierce heart and stunning wisdom. Thanks for helping me with the application process and directing me towards outlets I didn't know existed. Thanks to you, I didn’t feel alone.
• Homeless Prevention Council and their case manager program: Thank you. You are an important piece to the community. You offer a sense of neighbor helping neighbor.
• Michelle Jarusiewicz, Provincetown’s Community Housing Specialist: Thanks for guiding me with your knowledge, kindness and non-judgmental heart.
• Community Housing Resource. Thank you Shannon, Rachel, Monica, Brian, Ted and AJ for listening and continuing to be a kind presence and not letting me feel alone.
To quote the poet Rumi, you have gifted me with this:
"What was said to the rose that made it open was said to me here in my heart."
Thank you for listening.
(MHP note: Stable Path was financed with federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by DHCD, with Stratford Capital as the tax credit investor. The construction lender was Citizen's Bank. Additional financing was provided by the state, Barnstable County and the Town of Provincetown. MHP provided $1.95 million in permanent financing. MHP has now provided CHR with over $5 million in loans and commitments for the financing of 55 affordable apartments in six projects in Provincetown, Truro and Wellfleet. For more information, contact Senior Loan Officer Amanda Roe at firstname.lastname@example.org).