For Immediate Release - May 10, 2013

Application Period Opens for $1 Million Grant Program to Revitalize Distressed Properties

Program Launched In Partnership with Registries of Deeds; Funding a Result of National Settlement over Illegal Foreclosures and Loan Servicing

BOSTON – In an effort to help Massachusetts municipalities with high rates of distressed and vacant properties turn the corner on the foreclosure crisis, Attorney General Martha Coakley today opened the application period for a $1 million grant program designed to identify and return bank-owned properties to productive residential use. 

In collaboration with the state’s registries of deeds, utilizing funds recovered by the AG’s Office through a multi-state settlement concerning unlawful foreclosure methods, the Distressed Properties Identification and Revitalization Grant (DPIR Grant) program will help municipalities in Massachusetts identify distressed and vacant Real Estate Owned (REO) properties, so that they can advocate for prompt rehabilitation.

“Communities with high rates of distressed properties are encouraged to utilize this grant to help return homes to acceptable standards and encourage owners to place them back on the market,” AG Coakley said. “Our extensive grant opportunities are designed to mitigate the impacts of the foreclosure crisis throughout the Commonwealth, and it’s our goal to provide this direct relief to municipalities in need.”

“The Distressed Properties Identification and Revitalization grant program, which leverages our cooperative partnership between Registers of Deeds and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, is an example of the creative solutions government can create to solve the problems we see every day as a result of the foreclosure crisis,” said Bristol County Northern District Register of Deeds Barry Amaral, President of the Massachusetts Register of Deeds Association.

“This is another example of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office partnering with local organizations to address a layer of the foreclosure crisis,” said Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell, Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Massachusetts Register of Deeds Association. “This grant opportunity will turn unproductive properties into a productive part of our communities.”

The goal of the DPIR Grant is to not only identify and prioritize a list of REO properties in eligible municipalities, but to ensure that the property owners comply with all state and local ordinances to bring properties into a state of good repair. 

Up to $1 million will be available for the DPIR Grant. Selected applicants will be tasked with working with the appropriate register of deeds and municipal departments to identify and prioritize properties, followed by creating strategies to engage with property owners and advocate for proper rehabilitation and returning the properties to productive residential use. If further enforcement is needed, the properties identified can also be referred to AG Coakley’s Abandoned Housing Initiative (AHI).

Eligible applicants to the grant program must be Massachusetts gateway municipalities or municipalities that have high rates of distressed properties (either throughout their jurisdiction or in particular geographic areas). Municipalities are encouraged to submit joint applications. 

Interested applicants can visit the Attorney General’s website, www.mass.gov/ago/grants, for additional information about the application process and to download application materials. Proposals for the DPIR Fund are to be delivered via email to AGOgrants@state.ma.us by 4 p.m. on June 13.

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