Martha Coakley (D)

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Monies obtained from the 2009 Fremont Settlement will be used to fund over $1 million in grants for the Abandoned Property Rehabilitation Program, Attorney General Martha Coakley has announced.

The grants will support the rehabilitation of residential properties abandoned due to foreclosure and will allow community development organizations and non-profit housing groups to rehabilitate abandoned properties and stem neighborhood decline.

The funding for the grants comes from a settlement obtained in 2009 by Coakley's office against Fremont Investment & Loan and Fremont General Corporation, its parent company. Fremont, under terms of the settlement, has agreed to not foreclose upon loans or originate unfair loans in the commonwealth.

"I am pleased that funds we have obtained through our subprime lending enforcement efforts will be allocated to abandoned property rehabilitation and will help to provide housing opportunities for the people of the Commonwealth," Coakley said. "This grant program will help alleviate the stress of the foreclosure crisis by utilizing funds to rehabilitate abandoned properties and will improve the safety and well being of our communities by preventing these properties from being left in chaos."

Community organizations and municipal governments dealing with the effects of abandoned and foreclosed properties in some of the areas that were hardest hit by the housing crisis fallout will be the recipients of the grants. Applicants were given consideration based upon the likelihood that their programs would affect the largest number of properties and that the funds would be effectively leveraged against other funds to expand the impact of their resources.

Recipients of the grant funding include the city of Boston, Chelsea Restoration Corporation, the town of Frmingham, Lawrence Community Works, Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development, the city of Marlborough, the city of New Bedford, Twin Cities Community Development Corporation and the Worcester Community Housing Resources.

Attorney General Martha Coakley has made foreclosure prevention and property rehabilitation a priority since taking office in January 2007. Coakley announced the expansion of the mid-1990s Abandoned Housing Initiative in march of 2009. The expansion, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, also saw the awarding of $435,000 in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

The Abandoned Housing Initiative was developed in response to complaints about crime and safety issues imposed on otherwise viable neighborhoods by one or two abandoned homes. Staff in the attorney general's office work with municipal inspection services through the AHI to identify abandoned properties that are threats to neighborhoods.

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