We go a letter from Lew Finfer. “This is the 50th Anniversary of the disastrous to Dorchester and Mattapan program called the Boston Banks Urban Renewal Group (BBURG). This program that ran from 1968-1972 was supposed to enable African-Americans to buy homes after a century+ of housing discrimination largely prevented that. However, it instead became a litany of abuses of redlining, blockbusting, faulty home inspections, “fast foreclosures”, mismanagement, abandonment, which I try to briefly explain in the oped piece below.
I started organizing in Dorchester in 1970. The lessons of what happened in BBURG educated me and others so much about abuses of banks and consequences of government inaction and institutional racism. The community groups I was part of back then, Dorchester Community Action Council and Dorchester Fair Share, joined the national campaigns of National People’s Action (NPA) that passed the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) so redlining could be documented, the FHA 518 B Payback Program that allowed African-American homeowners to file claims against FHA/HUD for faulty home inspections (600 of them won financial claims here in the campaign we organized), and most importantly in 1977 the passage of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) in Congress, which has enabled community groups to negotiate banking commitments to neighborhoods for many tens of billions of dollars over the years. For example, just last year, National Community Reinvestment Coalition working with community groups from Massachusetts down to Delaware negotiated a major CRA agreement with Santander Bank.
And today, we are challenged by the tidal waves of high home prices and rents that both displace so many and make so many pay huge percentages of their income for rent or a mortgage. More to do, huh?
Thanks, Lew Finfer
PS I take groups on free tours about this history of how it impacted Dorchester and Mattapan….focusing on Woodrow Avenue, one of the areas where this blockbusting and redlining happened leading to wide scale abandonment and many buildings torn down….there are 3 churches close together there that were once synagogues and a terrible incident in those events happened at one of them. So can do a tour and discussion, if ever of interest….
Lewis Finfer, Co-Director
Massachusetts Communities Action Network (MCAN)
14 Cushing Ave, Dorchester, MA 02125
(617) 470-2912 cell
affiliated with the PICO National Network www.piconetwork.org