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Organizing to prevent foreclosure

Direct Action for Rights and Equality, Providence, Rhode Island

Thirty years ago, a group of people on the south side of Providence banded together to address quality-of-life issues for low-income families in communities of color. They called themselves DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality). Over the decades they have campaigned for access to green space and civilian review of police complaints, benefits for home daycare providers and a cap on utility bills for people on federal heating assistance. They even won a battle to sell vacant lots to the community for only $1. Throughout, they remained a group of volunteers, members who work together to seek and organize solutions to community-wide problems.

Then came the foreclosure crisis. A new campaign began, known as The Tenant and Homeowner Association. Christopher Samih-Rotondo, Community Organizer, describes canvassing neighborhoods, “knocking on every door with a foreclosure sign on it. We bring together tenants and homeowners to work for policy change, fight evictions, and prevent foreclosure and displacement.” And BCC’s SUN program has been a key part of that.

"It’s the only program doing this kind of thing,” Samih-Rotondo declares. “The people we work with—the lowest income homeowners, mostly people of color—have no other avenue to gain access to the capital they need to repurchase and maintain their homes.”

He continues, “Not even the most community-oriented bank can lend to them for years after they’ve faced foreclosure. Their houses are being sold to investors for pennies on the dollar, and they can’t do anything about it. Often these have been their lifelong homes.”

DARE was delighted when BCC brought the SUN initiative to Rhode Island. “SUN is making a real difference for Rhode Island homeowners,” Samih-Rotondo adds. “We’re really excited to have this practical long-term solution to let people remain in their homes.”

BCC and SUN are glad to partner with DARE in identifying solutions for Rhode Island families facing foreclosure. DARE is not a BCC borrower, but a partner in this work. 

Photo credit: Marilyn Humphries