In 2008, with foreclosures increasing in Boston, particularly in neighborhoods with high percentages of lower income and Black and Latino households, some 25 tenant, community, nonprofit, legal and government agencies and organizations came together and formed the Coalition for Occupied Homes in Foreclosure (COHIF). Among the participants were representatives from a distinguished group of housing professionals, including Boston Community Capital; Boston Tenant Coalition; City Life/Vida Urbana; Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau; Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations; Planning Office for Urban Affairs (the affordable housing development arm of the Archdiocese of Boston); the University of Massachusetts Center for Social Policy; and housing consultants Charleen Regan and Mat Thall. Central to this new effort were concerns about the fate of occupied foreclosed homes. COHIF was primarily concerned with finding solutions to allow residents of these properties - both owners and tenants -to stay in their homes despite the threat or reality of foreclosure, and to insure that the properties continue to be occupied without interruption, thereby avoiding the negative, destabilizing effects of vacant properties on the surrounding neighborhood.
In 2010, in collaboration with several advocacy groups, COHIF was successful in achieving the passage of just-cause eviction protections for tenants in foreclosed properties (hyperlink to Tenant Protections in Foreclosed Properties, An Act Relative to Mortgage Foreclosures). The following year, COHIF initiated a series of roundtable discussions to consider how, exactly, it could spearhead a new initiative to achieve the goals first articulated in 2008. In short, the challenge was to develop a strategy to "acquire, hold, and develop occupied properties (where no former owner or tenant can purchase), and to expand and use regulatory tools such as receivership and code enforcement to hold bank and investor owners more accountable to the residents and the community."
In addition to being committed to assisting existing residents of financially at-risk properties to remain in their homes, COHIF aims to increase resident and community control of housing, so that it stays affordable over the long-term. Thus, COHIF strives to maintain neighborhood stability by ensuring that homes never become vacant and that existing residents are provided security of tenure.