Project documents Boston's foreclosure crisis, one victim at a time
The loan officer told Paula Taylor she could qualify for a $259,000 mortgage despite her $20,000 yearly salary. Eager to own a home, she signed up and bought a condo in Roxbury. Despite having her sister move in to help with expenses, she couldn't keep up with the mortgage payments and lost the house in just seven months - later finding out the loan company - Countrywide Financial had listed her salary at nearly $90,000 so she could get the mortgage, and it could get the fees.
The Taylor story is one of many being tracked by We Shall Not Be Moved, an on-going media project to tell the story of the grassroots movement that is working to keep Boston-area families in their homes after foreclosure. We Shall Not Be Moved holds an opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 19, from 4-7 p.m., at the Great Hall in Codman Square.
Kelly Creedon, a Boston-based documentary photographer and producer, works on the project in partnership with the Bank Tenant Association and City Life/Vida Urbana to tell the stories of families hit by foreclosure.
"I chose to pursue this project because I wanted to tell a different story about the foreclosure crisis, one that both reflected the human impact of the crisis on families and communities, and one that provided hope about how communities were banding together to support each other," she said.
Although some areas, such as parts of Dorchester, have been particularly hard hit, there have been foreclosures across the area. Associated Press and the Globe both recently reported foreclosure procedings in Massachusetts were up 32% this past year, t0 12,233 statewide - although the number of new filings did decline 14%.
City Life/Vida Urbana and Project No One Leaves has responded through direct action, when negotiations fail. They've organized strikes, pickets and vigils to keep families in their homes. And they work with local law students to help families living in foreclosed homes by providing legal advice and informing tenants and homeowners of their rights.
Marielle Macher, president of the No One Leaves Project, told Universal Hub the group is also working with Boston Community Capital on a buy-back program that helps former homeowners repurchase their former homes - at today's market values, rather than what they originally paid for them. "People have rights, they don't have to move, they have other options and we are there for them to fight back," she said.
Creedon said the foreclosure crisis is a complex, challenging crisis. "We're barraged daily with numbers and graphs and charts about the housing market that I think make us feel really overwhelmed and desensitized to the issue." It's not just a question of people being unable to meet their mortgates. Outright fraud has resulted in a number of arrests and convictions.
In Roxbury, the CLVU and the Bank Tenant Association held two eviction blockades for Taylor, but she still ended up being evicted. She is still part of the movement and hopes that her story can help others and prevent people from going through the same ordeal.