Saturday June 9, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Represent atives of a Boston-based financial institution will meet with city and regional housing officials at City Hall on Monday to discuss a initiative designed to keep people facing foreclosure in their homes.

Boston Community Capital Corp., certified by the U.S. Treasury as a nonprofit community development institution, has developed Stabilizing Urban Neighborhoods, or SUN, a program that helps homeowners and tenants who are facing foreclosure to repurchase their homes with mortgages that they can afford.

The nonprofit buys foreclosed properties from banks, then resells them to their original owners with smaller mortgages that carry principal payments that the owners can afford, according to the Boston Business Journal.

Since the program started three years ago, SUN has prevented the eviction of more than 200 state residents, and reduced monthly expenses for mortgage and principal, on average, by more than 40 percent.

"Our goal, in addition to helping families, is to ensure the stability of neighborhoods," said Boston Com munity Capital CEO Elyse Cherry. "When homes become vacant, they become targets for folks stealing piping or appliances or they become drug dens."

According to the city’s housing specialist, Justine Dodds, representatives from the Com munity Development Depart ment, Berkshire Hous ing De velopment and the Berkshire Regional Housing Authority will be in attendance.

"They are going to give us a briefing on what they do and if they can be of assistance to Berkshire County and Berk shire County residents," Dodds said. "It’s an intriguing concept, obviously. We want to see what they can do.

"It seems like a very different way to deal with some of the issues that we’ve faced with the foreclosure crisis," she added.

The meeting is not open to the public, but those seeking more information on the SUN initiative can call (617) 933-5880.

Cherry said Boston Com munity Capital is gradually expanding the SUN program across the state.

"What we’re trying to do is outreach," she said. "In the eastern part of the state, most folks know about us. But in the western part of the state, I think we have a lot of work to do."

Those eligible for the program are state residents who are late on their mortgage payments, or are either facing foreclosure or foreclosure-related eviction. They must also have a stable income, including Social Security Insurance or disability insurance that is sufficient to support a mortgage at current market values.

The program is also open to those who have filed for bankruptcy, have poor credit scores, or been turned down for federal mortgage modification programs. But the SUN initiative is not self-sufficient, and Cherry said Boston Capital has foreclosed on at least two participants who did not follow the program’s guidelines.

"We borrowed the money," she said. "We just can’t look the other way if nobody pays us."

Founded in 1985, Boston Community Capital has $700 million in assets under management, with half of them included in a new market tax credit program. The SUN program accounts for $25 million of Boston Capital’s complete portfolio.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224.
On Twitter: @tonydobrow