MBF awards grants totaling $362,700 for community redevelopment

The Massachusetts Bar Foundation (MBF) recently awarded over $360,000 in grants to four programs that will utilize legal advocacy to foster community redevelopment in areas of Massachusetts hit particularly hard by the foreclosure crisis.

 Funds for the grants were received from a settlement on mortgage-related litigation between the US Dept. of Justice and Citigroup. Massachusetts is one of ten states nationwide selected to receive funds from this settlement.

 “These grants present an extraordinary opportunity for our region,” said MBF President Robert J. Ambrogi of Rockport. “There are many areas of Massachusetts where the negative impacts of the foreclosure crisis are still being felt severely. It is our hope that these programs will promote growth and opportunity where it is desperately needed.”

 Grants were awarded to the following recipients:

 Dismas House of Central Massachusetts
Housing Stabilization Initiative, $75,000
·        To increase resources available to promote housing stabilization in Worcester, which has the region’s the highest rates of foreclosure and poverty, as well as the lowest rate of home-ownership. This is a multi-faceted partnership initiative with the Oak Hill CDC, Home Ownership Center, and the Worcester Green Low-Income Housing Coalition.

Greater Boston Legal Services
Stabilizing Communities Project, $120,000
·        To provide advocacy and representation to make it possible for some of the approximately 1,200 properties owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the Boston area to be reclaimed as permanently affordable housing by either former homeowners or nonprofits. The project will seek policy changes to eliminate the current barriers to reclamation.  This is a partnership project with City Life/Vida Urbana, Coalition for Occupied Homes in Foreclosure, and the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.

 MetroWest Legal Services
MetroWest Consumer Enterprise Project, $77,700
·        To provide legal education and representation to small business entrepreneurs in the MetroWest region in collaboration with the South Middlesex Opportunity Council's “SMOC Financial Services Program.” Areas of legal representation will include incorporation, intellectual property rights, leases, contracts, corporate governance, and financial issues.

 Northeast Legal Aid
Community Redevelopment and Entrepreneurship Program, $90,000
·        To assist low-income people to open small businesses by providing a broad range of transaction/business law services, as well as bilingual community education programs.  Funds will be used to expand the program from the two cities where it currently operates (Lynn and Lawrence) to the entire northeast region of Massachusetts.