Funding will expand programs; cites drop in foreclosure petitions in Boston

BOSTON – Tuesday, April 17, 2018 –  Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the Boston Home Center (BHC) has been awarded a $190,000 grant for its work on foreclosure prevention. The grant, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Division of Banks, is part of $1.5 million in statewide grants from the Division of Banks that will fund first-time homeownership counseling programs and foreclosure prevention education centers throughout the Commonwealth. The City’s grant funding will be applied to its foreclosure prevention and home preservation counseling programs.

“I am proud of the progress we’ve made on preventing foreclosures, and this grant will help the Boston Home Center continue its important work, making sure homeowners are able to stay in their homes,” said Mayor Walsh. “I want to thank the Commonwealth for their partnership and the important progress we have made creating stable housing for families in Boston. Boston will continue to be a city that works to strengthen and support its middle class.”

The announcement of the new funding award comes as the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), which tracks foreclosure data, released its latest Foreclosure Trends Report. The released report notes that from 2016 to 2017, foreclosure petitions — the first step in the foreclosure process — decreased by 22 percent, while completed foreclosures decreased by 15 percent.

The Boston Home Center’s foreclosure prevention and intervention services have been extremely effective. Among the top ten most populous Massachusetts cities, Boston ranks ninth in the rate of foreclosure petitions and foreclosure deeds per 1,000 residential parcels, while Boston’s foreclosure petition rate and foreclosure deed rates are 30 percent lower than the statewide rate for petitions and less than half the statewide rate of foreclosures, respectively.

Working with community partners, the Boston Home Center identifies and proactively reaches out to homeowners early in the foreclosure process, before homeowners are either petitioned or foreclosed upon. As a result, the Boston Home Center and its partners in the non-profit community were able to successfully prevent 262 homeowners from being foreclosed upon in 2017.

The BHC will use these new funds to:

• Maintain and expand the foreclosure prevention and intervention work of the Boston Home Center and its nonprofit counseling partners;

• Expand marketing and outreach for the Boston Home Center’s foreclosure program;

• Establish new partnerships with key organizations assisting homeowners; and

• Create programs serving linguistic minority groups in all Boston neighborhoods.

The new grant will also help fund partner non-profit agencies who provide regional foreclosure prevention counseling services, and help those agencies better market their prevention programs. Non-profit partners provide free confidential foreclosure counseling to Boston homeowners.

Helping homeowners make sound financial decisions has proven to be the most effective way of keeping foreclosures in check and stabilizing Boston’s housing market. To that end, Boston Home Center serves as a one-stop resource for Boston residents, providing them with the tools they need to purchase a new home, helping homeowners with needed repairs, and counseling homeowners who are facing credit or financial problems.

Building on his commitment to make housing more accessible to all, and to assist those experiencing housing crisis, last week Mayor Walsh proposed additional housing investments in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal. Through the Office of Housing Stability, which aims to support renters in housing crisis, preserve tenancy and prevent displacement, Mayor Walsh is proposing investments to expand the capacity and effectiveness, including:

• $150,000 for flexible financial assistance for low and moderate income households facing a housing crisis who are not eligible for existing programs;

• $125,000 for expanded legal representation and stabilization services for renters facing eviction in Housing Court and District Court;

• $35,000 increase for the Emergency Housing Assistance Program to assist residents displaced by fire, condemnation, natural disaster and other events;

• Funding for an additional case manager to support renters facing housing crisis; and additional staff at the Elderly Commission to support tenant or home-owning seniors with their housing needs.

To date, the Walsh Administration has committed more than $100 million in funding to the creation and preservation of affordable housing. Today’s announcement builds on the City’s preservation and anti-displacement goals, outlined in Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030, Mayor Walsh’s housing plan, and the housing goals laid out in Imagine Boston 2030, Boston’s first citywide plan in 50 years. As part of both plans, Boston has prioritized increasing the overall housing supply, with a focus on creating and preserving affordable housing.

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