News & Media

Bus tour highlights effects of foreclosure crisis in Brockton

November 2, 2009 | New England Cable News

Brockton Interfaith Community (BIC), Massachusetts Communities Action Network (MCAN)

(NECN: Josh Brogadir - Brockton, Mass.) - People here say they feel helpless and trapped.

There have been more than 1500 foreclosures here in the past five years - some of it questionable lending practices - and there was anger tonight against banks.

Most people are looking to find a way out.

The bus says "All Occasions" and this one is a tour of the foreclosed homes of Brockton, Massachusetts, a city that's been hammered by the foreclosure crisis that's affected much of this country.

The Brockton Interfaith Community coordinated the bus trip so that local leaders could show federal reserve board officials firsthand what the City of Champions is up against.

"(There's an) abandoned house here, abandoned house here, but you've got a homeowner who lives here. A single family up here, a single family over there, people that are taking care of their property (here)," said Robert Jenkins, Director of Housing for the group Building a Better Brockton.

Stop after stop looked like this boarded up home on Highland Street.

Just two doors down, a three family home - and more of the same.

Then to a hotel.

There are currently 91 families in Brockton who had to leave foreclosed homes who are living in hotels.

Laid off teacher Nylton Andrade's home was on the tour - his mortgage due November 1 as he transitions into foreclosure - his house is in jeopardy and he spoke with federal officials on the bus.

"It's just

awesome, it's just awesome to actually see them on the bus and connect eye to eye," Andrade said.

The tour over, Federal Reserve Board officials and others got off the bus.

Their impression?

"I think it was very interesting and very sobering. Obviously there are a lot of foreclosure problems in Brockton. This tracks with conditions we've seen in a number of areas around the country," said Sandra Braunstein Director of the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs for the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C.

Then it was time for the people of Brockton to call for change in how the the way foreclosures are handled and several hundred community members did, filling St. Patrick's Church.

"Will you amend this bill so that it helps the millions facing foreclosure now?" Christine McDonald of Brockton Interfaith Community who asked Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Rep. Frank answered several questions at this, the last of nine federal reserve hearings around the country - and the only one in New England.

"We are trying to free up some more money. I have been pushing the Obama administration to take some of the money that's being repaid in the TARP program in interest and dividends, we're making a profit on some of that and make it available to help with these modifications," he said.

Congressman Frank said he hopes there will soon be a program to bring $2 billion in loans to homeowners who have mortgages but who lost their jobs.

It will extend term of their loan.

Even though Brockton leads the state in foreclosures, it also leads the state in home sales.

But leaders know there's still a long way to go.

Other cities visited as part of the federal reserve tour include Decatur, Illinois, Cincinnati, Ohio and New York City.