A Working Class Neighborhood Battle With Foreclosure

In the struggling city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, sub-prime mortgage foreclosures are threatening the community's stability and the longterm viability of the city's minority and working class neighborhoods.

"Mario DeJesus struggled under crushing mortgage payments for two years. Now, about to lose his home to foreclosure, he has no money left to move his family into an apartment.

Altagracia Portorreal sleeps uneasily since teenagers broke into the vacant home next door, abandoned by a neighbor who couldn't keep up with the mortgage. Bienvenido Chalas is cutting the hours of employees who clean carpets and refinish floors as foreclosures drag down the housing market that supports his business.

DeJesus, Portorreal, and Chalas are three faces of the foreclosure crisis sweeping the north side of Lawrence, a crisis that is uprooting families, destabilizing neighborhoods and shaking a local economy only beginning to recover from the real estate crash of the 1990s, when so many abandoned buildings burned that Lawrence became known as New England's ‘‘arson capital.''

'I thought nothing could be as bad as the '90s,' said Mary Marra, executive director of Bread & Roses Housing, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing. 'But I'm beginning to question that.'"

Full Story: As foreclosures widen, a neighborhood erodes

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