Wednesday, September 30

Harvard Legal Aid Bureau: No One Leaves opportunity for students

We are called No One Leaves and we are associated
with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau at Harvard Law School. We are
working to help fight the devastating effects of foreclosure in our
community and to inform people of their legal recourses.

Around 200-300 properties are foreclosed each month in Boston, and
over 40% of the foreclosed properties each month are multi-family
properties. As a matter of policy, banks evict all residents — both
tenants and owners -- from properties following a foreclosure auction.
These banks keep rows of abandoned properties on the market for
months, destroying the communities and endangering the residents of
areas like Dorchester, Roxbury, and East Boston.

In January 2008, the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and other legal service
providers have been hosting weekly legal clinics to inform tenants and
former owners of foreclosed properties of their legal rights,
providing these individuals with representation and resources to fight

The problem is this: Of the 200-300 properties foreclosed each month,
almost 90% vacate before reaching the stage of eviction. Brokers,
through offers of small amounts of money known as “Cash for Keys” and
various methods of intimidation, get residents to vacate properties
before going through the eviction process. As a result, we have not
been able to change the banks’ policy on a larger scale. Evicting
every tenant still makes sense when only 1 of 10 actually has to be

To fix this problem, we created a community action group, “No One
Leaves,” focused on informing tenants of their rights and encouraging
them to stay in their homes through the eviction process. We have
broken Boston into 20 zones, mapping foreclosed properties. 10
colleges and law schools around Boston have committed to “Adopting a
Neighborhood” and canvas every foreclosed property in their zone each
week. The goal is to have every resident of a foreclosed property
understand their rights and stay in their homes, with a goal that “No
One Leaves.”

Currently, students are canvassing every week, and we also have a
monthly mass-canvas of residents living in foreclosed properties. Our
goal is now to expand our efforts by reaching out to churches,
non-profit organizations, and CDCs. We are trying to identify forums
where we can get information to individuals who are living in homes
that have already or may soon be foreclosed in order to more
efficiently inform people of their rights.

Danielle Tenner
Harvard Law School
J.D. Candidate 2010

or Jim Parker for more info.