AG Coakley to Award $1 Million in Grants to Revitalize Distressed Properties
21 Municipalities to Receive Grant Funding; Program in Partnership with Registries of Deeds
BOSTON – To encourage the rehabilitation of distressed properties, Attorney General Martha Coakley has awarded $1 million in grants to a total of 21 communities across the Commonwealth.
In May, AG Coakley announced the Distressed Properties Identification and Revitalization (DPIR Grant) program in collaboration with registries of deeds across the Commonwealth after recovering funds from a national settlement over 'Robo-signing' claims. The DPIR Grant was created to mitigate the impacts of the foreclosure crisis by identifying distressed and vacant bank or creditor Real Estate Owned properties (REO) in order for municipalities to advocate for prompt rehabilitation. So far this year, there are more than 5,300 distressed properties in the DPIR-funded municipalities.
“Many Massachusetts municipalities have high rates of distressed and vacant properties and we are pleased to bring this direct relief through our grant program,” AG Coakley said. “These funds will help a wide range of communities who have suffered from foreclosure crisis, by effectively identifying these properties and encouraging productive rehabilitation.”
“The DPIR program, spearheaded by the AG’s Office, is a valuable tool which will aid communities in the recovery from the recent foreclosure crisis,” said Bristol County Northern District Register of Deeds Barry Amaral, President of the Massachusetts Register of Deeds Association. “Registers of Deeds from across the Commonwealth are eager to work in partnership with the Attorney General’s Office to do our part in helping our cities and towns.”
“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. “These grants will turn unproductive properties into a productive part of our communities.”
Recipients include the municipalities of Adams, Ashburnham, Athol, Barnstable, Brockton, Chicopee, Fall River, Fitchburg, Greenfield, Haverhill, Holyoke, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Methuen, Montague, New Bedford, North Adams, Orange, Springfield, and Winchendon.
The goal of DPIR Grant program 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.
The selected municipalities are tasked with working with the appropriate registers 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).
Applications were requested from municipalities, either individually or jointly, to work in collaboration with the appropriate register(s) of deeds to research ownership of post-foreclosure, distressed, and vacant REO properties.