In Boston, Protecting Communities from the Consequences of Foreclosure

A diverse Boston community alliance initially came together to maintain stability in neighborhoods affected by foreclosures. It has changed focus as its work has continued.

1 minute read

September 17, 2018, 6:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink

Boston houses

ericodeg / Flickr

Zoe Sullivan traces the history of the Coalition for Occupied Homes in Foreclosure (COHIF), a group in Boston that started in the wake of the subprime housing crisis. As foreclosures spread throughout the city, both homeowners and tenants were left in precarious and unstable situations. The coalition is a diverse group – housing and policy advocates, developers, financiers, and government agencies – that came together to ensure people in lower-income neighborhoods would not be displaced.

In responding to community needs over time, COHIF shifted its work away from advocacy and became an affordable housing developer. This move had its challenges, says Sullivan, and understanding the different perspectives of members was crucial to the coalition’s success. “This capacity to engage in real discussions has helped the group evolve and cultivate the trust that has been essential to its survival and success so far,” reports Sullivan.

More recently, COHIF’s work changed direction again, and it became a community land trust. Members see this as an important step in fostering long-term housing affordability in Boston.

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