With an alarming number of home foreclosures across the Commonwealth and the country, and the prospects for a growing problem with people losing their jobs due to worsening economic conditions, POUA has become involved in helping shape the Church's response to this crisis. In order to provide assistance to people and communities affected by this problem, the Planning Office has taken several steps, including:
Participating in the Massachusetts Foreclosed Properties Initiative. POUA has become a "Certified Purchaser" in this new program established by Governor Patrick and administered by the Citizens' Housing and Planning Association that gives cities and non-profits priority to purchase and rehabilitate bank-owned properties in neighborhoods that have been disproportionately burdened by foreclosures.
Advocating for residents to stay in their homes. POUA, in partnership with Boston Community Capital, has hosted a group of advocates including legal aid attorneys and agencies, community organizers, community development corporations and representatives of City and State government, to explore strategies to help people affected by foreclosures to remain in their homes.
Communicating through the parish network: POUA has circulated resource sheets and notices for inclusion in weekly bulletins to nearly 300 parishes and 150 schools throughout the Archdiocese, that provide information for homeowners threatened by foreclosure on how to get help. Communicating through the Archdiocesan parish and school network - which reaches thousands of people each week - is one of the most fundamental, effective and powerful tools available to connect with people who need help.
Working in Partnership with the Fall River Diocese, the Planning Office has joined forces with Catholic Social Services (CSS) and Community Action for Better Housing (CABH), with the support of Boston Community Capital, to help address the foreclosure crisis in New Bedford. The intent of this partnership is to target 50 to 100 foreclosed units for acquisition and renovation as part of a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy. By combining these properties, our collaborative hopes are to create development and operating efficiencies and have a greater positive impact in the community than smaller scale efforts would allow.
Supporting the "No One Leaves" Initiative: eight universities and law schools in Boston have joined forces with City Life/Vida Urbana to inform residents of foreclosed properties of their legal rights and encourage them to stay in their homes. POUA is exploring working with the "No One Leaves" action group to hold informational meetings in regions of the Archdiocese.