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City Life/Vida Urbana


JULY 2012 JUNE 2013

Board of Directors
Dawn Belkin-Martinez Laura Foner LMerchie Frazier (on leave of absence) Carolyn Grant (served 6 months) Ricardo Henry Tom Kieffer Debbie Lubarr Lisa Owens Pinto Sherley E. Rodriguez Maura Russell Edna Willrich Mike Wolfson

Contributors to this Report

Writers: Irene Glassman Mike Leyba Gabriell DeBear Paye Anne Murphy Photos: Marilyn Humphries/ KC Bailey Rachel Falcone/ Michael Premo/ Shlomo Roth/ Eroc Arroyo Birgit Sandoval/Birgit Sandoval Productions Design: Alma Lynn-Dupont

City Life/Vida Urbana is a grassroots community organization committed to ghting for racial, social and economic justice and gender equality by building working class power. We promote individual empowerment, develop community leaders and build collective power to effect systemic change and transform society.



Curdina Hill, Executive Director Steve Meacham, Coordinator of Organizing Denise Matthews-Turner, HR/Office Manager Louise Profumo, Fiscal Manager Sue Parsons, Development Director Irene Glassman, Grant Writer Mike Leyba, Communications/Management Assistant Minnie Thomas, Clerical Assistant* Maria Christina Blanco, Bilingual Organizer Jim Brooks, Organizer Dave Burt, Special Projects Assistant Andres Del Castillo, North Side Lead Organizer Antonio Ennis, Organizer Domingo Franco, Bilingual Organizing Assistant Emma Grigsby, Brockton Organizing Assistant* Isaac Hodes, Lynn Lead Organizer Jonathan Marien, Worcester Lead Organizer Patsy Polanco, Housing Search Counsellor/Organizer Mary Wright, Organizer, Faith and Justice John Wyche, Organizing Assistant*
*indicates a Mature Worker through Urban League of Massachusetts or Coastline Elderly Services, Inc.

We at City Life/Vida Urbana embrace a vision of a society and world where there is: peace among nations and peoples; respect for our cultural, racial and sexual diversity; cooperation rather than competition; no extremes of wealth or poverty; respect for nature and the condition of the environment for ourselves and future generations; production that serves the needs of the many rather than the greed of the few; as well as a guarantee that each person has the right to food, housing, healthcare, education, meaningful employment, and the right to exist in freedom without fear of displacement or deportation. We understand that these changes will not happen spontaneously. We hope to be part of a city, state, national, and international movement that believes in a similar vision and is prepared to build organizations and leadership that it will take to create this new world.


From the Board Chair

When a family rst comes to City Life/Vida Urbana, an organizer asks: Are you willing to ght for your home? When they say Yes! our members say, Then well ght with you! We dont say that well ght for you, and we dont just take someones problems and x them while they observe. We depend on each others strengths, and we believe that everyone who walks through our doors is an organizer and a leader. Im proud to say that City Life/Vida Urbana is part of a growing movement of people across the state, the New England region and throughout the country who are depending on the each others voice, power and vision in the ght for economic stability and social justice. In this report, youll hear many voices of this movement. Families who are standing next to families, refusing to let the big banks destroy our communities. Artist-organizers who are telling the stories of ghting and winning. Coalition partners in the NEW ROAD network coordinating actions, drafting public policy and strengthening their members leadership. We hope you see yourself in these pages, because this is your story, too. As a member, volunteer, donor, collaborator, or friend of City Life/Vida Urbana, you are already making a valuable contribution, and were depending on you more than ever. We hope you are inspired by these stories and that you are proud of the movement were all building together. Sincerely, Lisa Owens Pinto


City Life/Vida Urbanas Organizing Impacts National Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Policy
Fannie Mae... Fannie Might... Fannie Will... IF WE FIGHT!
This year, City Life/Vida Urbanas mobilization of tenants and owners ghting foreclosure displacement has made a critical contribution to a thunderous national demand for principal reduction focused largely on government-run lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are under the auspices of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). FHFAs Interim Director, Ed DeMarco, originally appointed to that agency by bush in 2008, adamantly opposes principal reduction.

Many households one story.

This year, 48 individual households whose mortgage loans are owned by Fannie or Freddie, have actively used their stories, their legal battles, and their public demands to help build a collective movement to pressure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce principal. Title problems. Improper notications. Illegal entry. Dorchester homeowner Rose Nozea steadily uses legal defense (The Shield) to challenge Fannie Mae on each and every violation. In September 2012, Rose entered Fannie Mae national headquarters shared her story with one of their Vice-Presidents. Hyde Park homeowner Lavette Sealls, foreclosed by Freddie Mac, held a vigil in front of her own home, has spoken at other members vigils, and has been featured in local and national media stories. She traveled to Seattle with CL/VU last year in order to train activists and lawyers there in our organizing model. I am so tired of the runaround, says Lavette, but I am not too tired to ght! I will ght until the end! (photo: FF6) Most anyone will readily open their home to Dorchester homeowner, Domingo Franco, whose warm smile belies the suffering that lenders have inicted on him and others. Domingo regularly visits with Spanish-speaking families who are facing foreclosure in order to offer support and resources, and coordinates CL/VUs outreach effort to Spanish churches. He has been a member of the Bank Tenant Association Leadership Team since 2010. He explains: I am ghting for something for my kids... The one door that remains open to Domingo is Fannie Maes.

From the Executive Director

I am excited to be writing this letter at a time weve moved one step closer to getting new leadership at FHFA, oversight agency for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a major City Life/Vida Urbana campaign and hopefully winning policy changes to keep more families secure in their homes. This was made possible because of all the families who said we are not moving, who took their ght to the street, to the doors of the banks and to Fannie and Freddie, and to the supporters and allies who backed them up. Often, the public perception of change is focused on snapshots of climactic moments: the eruption of mass protest, the nal push, the press conference where an institutional policy shift is announced. Those are the tip of the iceberg. On these pages, you will nd stories of change that goes on down deep beneath the surface, often unseen. This Annual Report uplifts stories from City Life/Vida Urbanas day-to-day organizing on the ground; the role that this organizing plays in contributing to local, regional, and national change. Our path of resistance and the relentless pursuit of justice has led to many successes this year, the culmination of 40 years of organizing and movement building. We want to thank our entire community, allies and donors for standing with us as we ght for a world where housing is a human right and justice is possible for all. In Love and Solidarity, Curdina Hill

Fannie and Freddie Facts

Government-run mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Are 78% taxpayer-owned Own over 50% of all mortgages nationwide Received $180 billion in Federal government bailouts in 2008 As a matter of FHFA policy, refuse to reduce principal on underwater loans. As a matter of current FHFA policy prevents selling occupied foreclosed homes to investors who plan to sell back to the original owner.

These three CL/VU members and many others helped forge the path to national change this year. September 2012: City Life and NEW ROAD, the 9-site regional network of anti-displacement campaigns that CL/VU helps convene and co-organize, brought 200 people to Right to the City Alliances Northeast Fire DeMarco! action in New York City. Two weeks later, CL/ VU and NEW ROAD contributed leadership and turnout to national actions in Washington D.C. targeting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac headquarters and the home of Ed DeMarco. 5 got arrested in civil disobedience at Freddie Mac, including our Brockton BTA member Virginia Wooten. Fall 2012 Winter 2013: City Life/Vida Urbana serves as lead negotiator on a series of national calls with Fannie Mae leadership. Septembers direct action campaign led Fannie Mae to agree to a series of national calls between a group of organizers and Elonda Crockett, Fannie Maes VP in charge of REO properties. These meetings, organized by Right to the City and Home Defenders League, focused both on cases, and on policy change. Winter 2013: Pressure from City Life/Vida Urbana and Hotel Workers Local 26 brings FHFAs General Counsel Alfred Pollard to Boston for two negotiations to discuss principal reduction. On March 13, a small delegation of 50 of us greeted Pollard, including NEW ROAD families from North Side, Chelsea, Lynn, Worcester, and Boston who are facing foreclosure and displacement. A second smaller session was held in May 2013. Certain stuck cases, particularly those involving tenants, began moving forward. The fact that Pollard agreed to meet at all demonstrated that Fannie and Freddie were feeling the heat. March 2013: BTA member Ramon Suero and organizer Dominic DeSiata were among those who disrupted Ed DeMarcos testimony before the US House Committee on Housing Finance and got arrested as part of Right to the City Alliances Dump DeMarco action. May 1, 2013: President Obama announced his nomination of Congressman Melvin Watt to replace Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Interim Director Ed DeMarco. By the time this report is printed, we expect that Watt could be conrmed as the new FHFA Director! This ght for policy change at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began in the streets, as individual households, like Roses, Lavettes, and Domingos, are organized into vibrant centers of resistance through City Life/Vida Urbana and similar organizing groups. This organizing on the ground fuels the work of national entities, such as our national organizing network, the Right to the City Alliance. Through these joint efforts of CL/VU and many local, national, and regional partners and allies, we have now arrived at the cusp of winning positive leadership change at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Our Communities are not for sale: City Life/Vida Urbana and NEW ROAD take on predatory investors
While the foreclosure crisis has key elements that make it stand out from other cycles of housing exploitation of working class communities of color, in other respects, it has been but one chapter in the ongoing urban exploitation story. Now we are seeing the transition to a new chapter, as the foreclosure crisis shifts. Investors have returned to the Boston housing market to take advantage of bargain basement prices on foreclosed homes. Families are facing eviction, immoral rental increases, and/or conditions issues. CL/VU has launched a City Realty/Investor Campaign in order to bring families together to learn their rights and bargain collectively. We refuse to stand by quietly and watch Wall Street banks hand our homes over to Wall Street investors.

On February 27, 2013, 75 protesters from NEW ROAD groups in Chelsea, Boston, Lynn, Worcester, and North Side participated in the first joint investor campaign action, picketing the Brighton office of City Realty. This investor, operating under numerous LLC names, has been buying up hundreds of foreclosed units in the greater Boston area, undermining community purchases of these homes, raising rents, and evicting the residents. 40 CL/VU members marched in this protest which was jointly led by the Chelsea Citywide Tenants Association (Chelsea Collaborative), CL/VU, and Lynn United for Change.



Working with a variety of talented Cultural Organizers since 2008, CL/VU and the Bank Tenant Association have deepened our commitment to integrating organizing with the arts. The addition of striking paper machiere rally signs with strategic messaging, popular theater, use of lm, or music video has drawn media attention and enlivened our protests. We also strengthened the movement from within by developing a seven-part training video for groups around the country interested in replicating the CL/VU organizing model, lmed and produced by one of our BTA members. Two years ago, the BTA formed its Cultural Organizing Committee. The Committee has a vision of having its own space within City Life that would allow members to use their creativity to weave the arts more consistently and effectively into CL/VUs organizing. BTA members increasingly value the power of art as a means to express ourselves and to strengthen our bonds to one another.

This year thanks to City Life, and to our theater teacher, Tonia Pinheiro, who generously gave her time, I seized the opportunity to take a 13-week class in Playback Theater. Music has always been my lifeline. Through Playback Theater, I found another form of expression that holds the power to heal, one that ows like music. Playback has allowed me to revisit my past and tell stories that affected my very existence at its core, stories such as this: When I was 4 years old, on a trip into the South with my family, I went to get a drink of water from a Whites Only fountain. As my mother pulled my arm very hard to stop me, I experienced fear, shock, pain, and later, the understanding that she was protecting me. Through a Playback structure called Bridge others would rst reect my story back to me in movement and words as a Fluid Sculpture, then weave similar stories from their own life into mine until, together, we had woven our shared experience into one story. I and many others in the class, despite our shared struggles, come across as having shed not one single tear, yet as the Queen of Soul sings, look close, you can see the tracks of my tears. In this class we have laughed, cried, and shared intimate stories of past and present. We have built solidarity in a non-judgmental atmosphere. This type of theater is an antidote that can bring healing to a community eroded by the lack of fairness and can ignite greater systemic change. Finding City Life, then nding Playback Theater, reminds me that everything that happens is for a reason. In the words of Harvey MacKay: If you get an opportunity... Take it! If it changes your life... Let it!

CL/VUs Newest Collaborating Artist: Tonia Pinheiro, Founder and Director, ISEEU Theater
All those who embrace life no matter what the past may have been I see you... All those who fertilize the grass roots of positive change I see you... Tonia Pinheiro, With a set of afrmations including those above, 20 participants made a reective transition from their daily lives to their evenings journey into Playback Theater, a class that convened weekly at CL/VU for 13 weeks in Winter/ Spring 2013. Through this improvisational theater form, participants share stories from their lives, which the group acts out (plays back) in multiple forms. Early in 2013, members of the BTA Cultural Organizing Committee invited Playback Theater teacher Tonia Pinheiro to meet in order to discuss the possibility of offering a class at CL/VU. Tonia was impressed by CL/VUs work to defend peoples homes and by the fact that this was CL/VUs 40th Anniversary. She loves Playback Theater so much that she worked out a way to teach at CL/VU at no cost to the organization. This is a group of very loving, caring people. It made it really easy to help them tell their stories... Tonia herself discovered Playback Theater as the result of grabbing onto a chain of opportunities, starting with an improvisational theater class in 1997, ultimately leading her to audition for True Story Theater, a new Playback Theater troupe which formed in 2003. She remains a member of True Story Theater. In 2010, she founded the ISeeu (pronounced I see you) Theater in order to train others in improvisation and Playback Theater.

The Bank Attack

Most City Life/Vida Urbana Bank Tenant Association members would not have imagined that they would be featured in a hip-hop video. That is exactly what they did in Summer/Fall 2012 when acclaimed rapper and hip-hop artist Antonio Ennis (Twice Thou), now City Life staff organizer, and lm artist John Hulsey included them in lming of The Bank Attack video. The Bank Attack calls out the banks and politicians who created the foreclosure crisis and highlights City Life/Vida Urbanas movement to counter bank power with people power. This song is also the title cut from Enniss full-length CD focused on the banking and foreclosure crisis. Proceeds from this project are being donated to City Life and to an initiative to help community members buy back their foreclosed homes. Available at

When you see a chance... Take it! One womans journey in Playback Theater
By Carolyn Lomax I was born in the mid 60s, into a time of uncertainty. My uncertainty would change as I began to view the life experiences of others and intertwined my own with theirs. The housing calamity of the foreclosure crisis opened up old wounds of pain, shame, discouragement, and the unfairness of outdated laws: people becoming homeless, jobless and full of despair. The word got out: Go to City Life! There, people from all walks of life shared our stories. We learned that underneath our differences, we were the same. My healing had begun! I wanted to tell my story and I wanted it to be effective.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Macs true, greedy intentions were revealed through goulish masks, props, and performance at Northeast regional Fire DeMarco protest in NYC. Jorg Diaz and Dey Hernandez from Agitarte worked with CL/VU members in late Summer 2012 in order to create and develop these masks, characters, and street theatre for the NYC action. The embattled home and Count Bankula head in the photo are also creations of Agitarte, cultural organizing partner with City Life since 2009.



CL/VU Builds Community Leadership
Maria Estevez and Comit Latino: A Community and Place to Belong to Something Bigger
As a single mother living in your foreclosed home, running a home-based business, what does it take to stick to your guns when the bank comes and says: $20,000 if you move right away. You have to decide right now. Final offer.? Maria Estevez has left no stone unturned. She has proactively staved off three eviction attempts since 2010, working with Harvard Legal Aid Bureau advocates and with City Life organizers. Maria has already won four more years in her home, offering stability to her family and a vital service to the community. It is not that she is not nervous, not afraid, there are no guarantees, but she has stuck to her guns. She is a home daycare provider, also active in her union. When she hosted a vigil in front of her own home, a video of Maria and her supporters chanting and singing, was sent to Marias older son, Specialist Ivan Fuentes, stationed 8 time zones away in Afghanistan with the US Army, to tell him that he would have a home to come back to. Maria reects that when you ght for your home after foreclosure, every day, you wake up with the same uncertainty that you went to bed with the night before. Every knock on the door sets you on edge. To counter these daily inner struggles takes solidarity a sense of belonging to something greater, a sense that others have your back. Creating community through cultural and linguistic space can strengthen that solidarity. That is what Maria Estevez and some of our Latino members are nding in the newly revitalized Comit Latino. The Comit Latino is working to educate and mobilize Latino communities affected by foreclosure displacement and build the power of Latino BTA members. The group has spearheaded outreach to community organizations, especially to Spanish churches. Members have exemplied tremendous courage by going public with their stories in their own churches, knocking on neighbors doors, being interviewed by the media. Another contribution of the Comit is the creation of culturally relevant outreach materials. Their work has certainly offered a model, as CL/VU now lays groundwork for a Comit Kreyol for our Haitian members.

One Sunday, two college volunteers knocked on their door. They told him about City Life. Paul has participated consistently in every aspect of CL/VUs work: making regular reminder calls to the membership, serving on the BTA Leadership Team since 2010. Paul is one of the rst to reach out to mentor new members and lead by example. I still take a day off for members who put blood sweat and tears into the movement to defend their families Thats the least I can do. Using information and condence gained at CL/VU meetings, Paul convinced a would-be investor to withdraw his bid and his deposit on Pauls home. Later, when an investor did purchase his home, Paul personally negotiated an affordable rental contract. Paul, Renee, and their grandchild remained in their home for over four years post-foreclosure. Even after the family made the difcult decision to move last year, Paul continues to volunteer with CL/VU. City Life caresyou dont see that a lot. is Pauls simple, heartfelt statement. In the end, if you need encouragement to help keep you going, this is the place to be Every victory, large or small, that City Life/Vida Urbana and the BTA movement has achieved, is built on the leadership of Paul Adamson and other unsung heroes like him who ght their own foreclosure and stand by their neighbors, year in and year out. Though Paul will never tell you so, people like him are what make the movement work.

BTA Leadership Team Progress

Since 2009, City Life/Vida Urbanas Bank Tenant Association (BTA) Leadership Team has evolved as CL/VUs central vehicle for helping ensure that we maintain focus on member leadership and prioritize member input throughout the organization. The Leadership Team, which meets twice per month with 20 attending on average, helps shape the direction and strategy of current campaigns, receives training in organizing skills and knowledge, and weighs in on critical organizational decisions. In June 2013, the BTA Leadership Team elected its rst Executive Committee. As Heather Gordon, Brandon German, and Lovely Hoffman wrap up a six-month term of service, working with CL/VU staff to plan the meetings, trading off facilitation, and serving as liaison between BTA leadership and CL/VU. As Heather, Brandon, and Lovely now prepare to wrap up their term of service, and pass the baton to the new Executive Committee, CL/VU would like to extend warm appreciation to these three committed leaders for their work to advance the depth of our member leadership.

Paul Adamson: Making the Bank Tenant Movement Work

Several years prior to joining City Life/Vida Urbana (CL/VU), Paul began getting calls from lenders, telling him that the Dorchester triple-decker he had purchased in 1997 for $100,000 was now worth $300,000, and hounding him to renance. With two kids in college (now rst generation to graduate with their Bachelors degrees and one a recent Medical School graduate), he and his wife Renee nally accepted one of these offers, and ended up in a predatory loan. Then, for a full year, they could not nd tenants and Paul struggled to nd enough work during the Recession. In 2009, their home went into foreclosure.

Leadership Teams Join Forces Across 5 Cities and Towns

City Life/Vida Urbana seeks to build a movement of those impacted by housing displacement that continues to grow in numbers and in strength of relationships between members of different groups. We are making an intentional effort to bring leaders from multiple BTA organizing sites together as often as possible in order to achieve this goal. Over the summer, CL/VU launched a monthly joint meeting that brings together BTA Leadership Team members from Boston, North Side, Brockton, Lynn and additional leaders from an emergent South Shore BTA.

The chupacasa, a vulture bank or investor is a play on a the chupacabra found in folklore.




CL/VU Builds Stable Neighborhoods and Communities
One of CL/VUs strengths in pursuit of its vision of housing as a human right is the willingness and ability to link direct action community organizing to a wide array of partnerships and points of leverage in order to retain and expand control of our communities homes. Our foundational role in a community stabilization coalition and pilot project in Greater Four Corners, our collaboration with municipal leaders in Malden, Brockton, and Boston, and new community conversations with private investors exemplify such unusual collaborations. City Life advocates tirelessly with local families, while at the same time, engaging with my office in a strong spirit of collaboration to develop new community level solutions to this devastating crisis. Mayor Gary Christenson, Malden, Massachusetts

Coalition on Occupied Homes in Foreclosure (COHiF)

The Coalition on Occupied Homes in Foreclosure (COHiF) is one of several structural innovations CL/VU played an integral role in creating in response to the foreclosure crisis. In 2008, City Life/Vida Urbana cofounded the Coalition on Occupied Homes in Foreclosure (COHiF). This Boston community stabilization coalition convenes community organizers, City government, developers, advocates, lawyers, and neighborhood groups all working at the same table to keep foreclosed residents in their homes, and to keep those homes in our communities. Since 2011, COHiF has been implementing a visionary pilot project. The core steering group is comprised of CL/VU, Boston Tenant Coalition and Greater Four Corners Action Coalition. This group is working in concert with private developer Jonathan Kaye, and community developers to convert 2430 foreclosed homes in Dorchesters Greater Four Corners neighborhood into permanently affordable homes for current neighborhood residents. The City of Bostons Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) provides support and guidance regarding potential resources and development tools that could assist in COHiFs efforts. City Life/Vida Urbana, in conjunction with Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, continues to conduct intensive door-to-door canvasses to identify households and buildings for inclusion in the pilot. CL/VU provides intensive, individual and group support to households in order to help them to maintain participation over the lengthy development process. Through direct action, we generate public pressure that motivates banks to sell foreclosed homes to the project. To date, the COHiF pilot has purchased 11 homes and is in negotiation for 5-6 more. Over the past year and a half, COHiF has become an independent entity with its own Project Coordinator. We see COHiF as having an enduring role to play in strengthening the communitys voice in the development process. City Life brings the voices of the tenants and homeowners most directed impacted to the forefront of the Coalition on Occupied Homes in Foreclosure (COHiF), keeping the coalition focused on the human impact of the crisis. Theresa Gallagher, Deputy Director, Neighborhood Housing Development, a division of the Department of Neighborhood Development, City of Boston

Collaborating with the City of Malden to stop foreclosure displacement

In response to an invitation from City Lifes North Side Bank Tenant Association, Malden Mayor Gary Christenson showed up at a courthouse action in July 2012, protesting the eviction of a well-known local resident. When Mayor Christenson not only attended the event, but took the bullhorn and spoke out in support of saving this constituents home, we witnessed the depth of his commitment to this struggle! In Winter 2013, the city sponsored a robo-call to every Malden household, inviting them to a community resource forum. Since the robo-call was staffed by North Side BTA volunteers, any household that responded was directly linked with City Life. North Side BTA also participated in the resource forum along with a variety of community support organizations such as legal services and housing search specialists. Taking this collaborative work to a new level, City Life/Vida Urbana, Greater Boston Legal Services, and the City of Malden have submitted a collaborative proposal for the Working Cities Challenge Grant (a gateway cities community economic development initiative sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston), based on the BTA organizing model.

CL/VU supports Brockton, MAs drive to be a champion as eminent domain demand spreads
In January 2013, anti-foreclosure and Wall Street accountability activists around the country were focused on Brockton, MA. The Brockton Bank Tenant Association (BTA), co-organized by City Life/Vida Urbana and Brockton Interfaith Community, had been working with Brockton City Councilor Jass Stewart through Fall 2012. Stewart was preparing to propose that Brockton City Council undertake a formal study of eminent domain as a municipal strategy to reclaim foreclosed homes. This would make Brockton the rst city in the nation to undertake a formal study of eminent domain. The room was packed on the night of the City Council hearing on the proposed study. Brockton resident and BTA leader Emma Grigsby, testied that night, and recalls her excitement: Brockton calls itself the city of champions. They were making a move to be champions over the foreclosure issue... The City Council made history when it approved the study 9-2. However, the Study Committee suspended its work after just three meetings, according to City Councilor Stewart, because of fear of legal entanglement. City Lifes take is that if the mere threat of a study scares banks this much, we must be doing something right! We continue to push for completion of the study. Now other cities across the country have taken up the call for eminent domain with increasing success, most recently with landmark passage of eminent domain in Richmond, CA.

This year, inspired by the promise of pairing direct action organizing with a variety of community development alternatives, CL/VU has pursued new and expanded relationships with three private developers who are interested in purchasing foreclosed homes at current value and selling back to the owners with a modest (12%) markup. These developers see this as a model that allows them to meet their business goals, while supporting community stabilization. City Life gives hope to many hard working people who have trusted a system wrought with fine print designed to disabuse them of the notion that if you work hard and you are honest, you will be rewarded. The staff at City Life are dedicated to holding the authors of the fine print accountable. Jonathan Kaye, Founder, Combined Resources Company, COHiF Pilot Partner





CL/VU Builds A Movement of Movements

This Spring, through MassUniting, a CL/VU labor movement partner, Patti, who works at a movie theater making just above minimum wage, was asked to speak locally in support of raising the minimum wage. First, she spoke at a round table in Dorchester with the Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor, Seth Harris, then at a Statehouse hearing. Her speeches were so compelling that MassUniting asked her to testify in Washington, D.C. on June 24-25. Patti recalls: ... I had many people in tears. I told them that living paycheck to paycheck would represent an improvement in my life... Pattis ongoing ght to keep her home is still stressful, the outcome, uncertain. But this much is certain: Patti Federicos voice is making a difference in a collective ght for economic justice for all working class people. She says: CL/VU is the vessel that helped me be the change I want to see in the world.

Radical Organizing Conference

Since 2002, City Life/Vida Urbanas Radical Organizing Conference (ROC), has been offered in many forms, produced with a series of partners such as Alternatives for Community and Environment, City School, and Occupy! ROC expresses CL/VUs core mission to build a united front for social and economic justice across issue areas and organizing sectors.

Radical Organizing Conference 2013: Boston LeftRoots

Since 2011, we have witnessed stirrings around the globe of a peoples movement for social and economic justice more profound than many of us had witnessed in our lifetimes that have left many of us asking: Where do we go from here? It was tting that CL/VUs 2013 Radical Organizing Conference host West Coast organizers Steve Williams and NTania Lee, who have dedicated themselves to addressing this very question. At the ROC, they shared contents and reections from their interviews with 158 respected social and economic justice activists throughout the U.S. Over 150 participants, representing multiple movements: Housing, youth, labor, racial justice, disability rights, immigrant rights, environmental justice, and others, spent the day grappling with challenges and possibilities for building grassroots power and unity. In post-conference follow-up sessions, some are taking steps toward establishing a new Left formation in Boston based on the LeftRoots model launched in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jobs and Housing

By Dick Monks Members like Patti Federico exemplify the connection between good steady jobs and good secure housing; It is nearly impossible to have one without the other. This year, CL/VU formed its Good Jobs working committee to develop a more thoughtful and organized approach to strengthening ties with the growing city, state and national mobilization around Good Jobs. One goal is to create a CL/VU organizing campaign that connects housing and jobs to employment issues facing Bank Tenant Association (BTA) members. The Committees rst project was to design and carry out a Jobs Survey in order to get a better picture of our members work lives. The survey was completed this summer with about 100 participants. Final survey results and analysis, ready by late fall, can be used to craft a good jobs organizing campaign closely aligned with BTA members interests and priorities. This Jobs Committee has also taken a more active role in labor support, specically with UNITE HERE Local 26 and SEIU Locals 615 and 1199, three of the most active Unions among Greater Bostons low wage workers. This year, CL/VU has Taken its turn anchoring regular protests at Le Meridien Hotel in solidarity with Local 26 Organized a contingent of 30 to march in the May 1st Coalitions May Day march and rally for immigrant justice Participated, along with more than 10 other community organizations and Unions, in the National Day of Action for Low Wage Workers on August 29, 2013 Engaged actively in the Statewide coalition to raise the minimum wage and provide all Massachusetts workers with ve paid sick days, turning out members and providing testimony at Statehouse hearings

Stable affordable housing and good jobs go hand-in-hand. Patti Federico ghts for both
I never realized my family was on the cusp of being poor Patti Federico, Bank Tenant Association Leader Patti Federico lives in Weymouth, in the home her parents built 45 years ago. This home holds memories of Pattis endless discussions with her mother, a very knowledgeable woman, on every conceivable topic. Her father somehow made things always seem like they were going to be okay. Pattis mother developed dementia in 2000, eventually diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. In 2006, as the result of excessive medical bills, her father renanced the house, realizing only when it was too late that the new loan was predatory. They were unable to keep up and the lender initiated foreclosure. Patti and her Dad discussed the situation and agreed that Patti should ght for the familys home. Her father passed away in October, 2011. Her mother died in April, 2012. The bank held the foreclosure auction on their home on May 1, 2012. Five weeks later, CL/VU canvassers left a yer at Pattis door.

Patti recounts standing up at her rst CL/VU meeting, and starting to tell her story: I started bawling as all the trauma from my recent life events boiled over... Group members comforted her and pledged to stand with her.




City Life/Vida Urbana and the Youth Movement

By Zoe Peters This summer we had the honor of hosting six young participants from The City Schools summer leadership program. They challenged City Life to come up with an engaging way to teach about both the work they do and how they do it. Getting the chance to teach these interns the sword & shield model means offering them a gift that they can take out into their world, expand the work that CL/VU does into a way that none of us can even imagine. Youth in Boston face many challenges, and their experience is an invaluable and necessary voice. In return, City Life offers a model of change that attacks the system at roots and the leaves, all while building a strong community.


40 years of building solidarity to put people before prots.
by Mike Leyba I had been with City Life for less than a year when I was asked to be a part of the planning committee for the 40th Anniversary Celebration. Being the youngest and newest staff member, this was an exciting endeavor. I joined the planning committee in September. The committee was made up on an impressive group of longtime activists, founding members, and current BTA leaders. I had a fairly limited knowledge of City Life, identifying it mainly with the anti-displacement organizing and my personal involvement in the day-to-day ofce operations. Just by going around the table at my rst committee meeting, it was clear that City Life was so much more. The big night nally came --- nine months and countless decisions later. It was a stirring evening with a sold out crowd of 350 people representing every possible part of Boston. This broad-based support for the organization made me realize how special this all was, and seeing rsthand what building community looks like. By Laura Foner I became active with City Life/Vida Urbana in 1975 when I moved to Jamaica Plain. I worked on two projects: the monthly bilingual newspaper (the CommUNITY News) and a coalition to divest from South African Apartheid. Two years later, I joined the new City Life Work Place Organizing Committee. For almost 40 years, I joined with other CL/VU activists in womens study groups, tent cities, anti-war marches, strike support rallies, forums on racism and public education, canvassing, strategy sessions and eviction blockades. As a member of the 40th anniversary planning committee, I hoped we would bring together our past, present and future. And we did! The night of the celebration, there was so much excitement and joy as the room lled up with 350 people. I was thrilled to see so many City Life old-timers mingling with current leaders of our anti-foreclosure, anti-displacement movement. Eighty year olds in jeans, teenagers with tattoos, and BTA members in sparkling evening gowns all chanted: Up with the People and Down with the Banks! Listening to two of the original founders address the crowd it was clear that CL/VU has survived and thrived for 40 years because we have stayed true to our core beliefs: We CAN create a better world together; a world where people matter more than prot.

Looking forward

by CL/VU Organizer Andres DelCastillo

CL/VU serves a community with multi-issue lives and as such is inevitably tied to the issue of migrant justice. With members engaging through the window of housing justice, many open up on immediate needs around migration, legal status, and interaction with ICE and DHS. We are excited to more deeply integrate this issue into Bank Tenant Association organizing, including potential partnerships, political education, linked messaging and contextual analysis. Given my organizational background as a migrant justice organizer, we discuss current migrant issues, news and topics at the weekly North Side BTA meetings. This includes sharing talks, videos, articles, and member stories to build a community narrative that displays a multi-issue portrayal of local realities, dynamics, and linked corporate and state players or targets. Each meeting that we have, whether in East Boston, Jamaica Plain, Brockton or elsewhere, is an opportunity to link cross-issue systems analysis into the housing displacement organizing that City LifeVida Urbana is known for.

CL/VU Receives the 2013 Letelier-Moftt Human Rights Award

On the cusp of our 40th year of ghting for social and economic human rights, City Life/Vida Urbana was greatly moved to learn that we had been named as the domestic recipient of the Letelier-Moftt Human Rights Award from the Institute for Policy Studies. This award has been conferred annually since 1978 in memory and in honor of murdered human rights activists Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moftt. It is awarded to freedom ghters who do not settle for anything less than peace and justice. CL/VU is honored to be added to this list of esteemed colleagues. Our members put their hearts, minds, and bodies on the line in the ght for affordable housing, even as many of them face a daily struggle for dignity and survival. It is their courage to ght these battles, as well as our organizers tireless efforts that are recognized by the Leterlier-Moftt Award. Executive Director Curdina Hill and Organizing Coordinator Steve Meacham went to Washington D.C. to accept the award in a ceremony on October 17, 2012. Our group was introduced by actor and activist Danny Glover via a beautiful video tribute.





Seven years ago, City Life/Vida Urbana (CL/VU) launched a grassroots organizing movement of foreclosed owners and tenants - in the streets - ghting displacement after foreclosure. That movement resonated throughout the region and throughout the country. This movement has transformed anti-displacement organizing practice and it has transformed peoples lives and communities. Brocktons Bank Tenant Association, CL/VUs newest BTA, was founded in December 2011 as a collaboration between CL/VU and Brockton Interfaith Community. The chapter has grown into a solid group with biweekly meetings with attendance of 25-30. As a result of members outreach, anywhere you go in Brockton, you are likely to see the neon green of CL/VUs We Shall Not Be Moved T-shirts. Ramon and Debbie Sepulveda, whose story is told below, are among the leaders of this BTA, some of Brocktons true champions. Were not Just a Family, Were a Community. Brockton, MA If you come to Debbie and Ramon Sepulvedas 2-family home in Brockton, you will see a vegetable garden in front, owers on the side, 2 Chihuahuas, and 8 cats. Debbie might be showing her 6 grandchildren how to weed the garden while Ramon roasts chicken and homegrown vegetables on the barbecue. They moved here in 1999, after working with Habitat for Humanity to restore this house. Ramon and Debbie worked with neighbors and the police to reduce crime. They volunteered with the Boston Food Bank and programs for youth. They were doing ne until Bank of America took over their mortgage in 2010 and the bill suddenly ballooned with unexplained new fees. They fell behind in their payments. The bank demanded a lump sum payment of over $45,000, which the Sepulvedas could not afford. Their home, which is also home to Debbies son, his anc and 4 grandchildren, went into foreclosure. Like many others in their situation, they experienced hopelessness and despair. In the summer of 2011, Ramon was so depressed that he attempted to end his life. Luckily the gun he used did not re. Ramon, who is Catholic, made a heart-felt prayer to his God. That day, the sweetest, stupidest chicken they ever saw wandered up their driveway. They embraced it as a hopeful sign, and kept it as a pet. Later that week someone left them a yer about City Life/Vida Urbana. Ramon went to his rst meeting of CL/VUs newest Bank Tenant Association (BTA) in Brockton. Ramon and Debbie bring the same community spirit to these meetings that they bring elsewhere: Welcoming newcomers, bringing food, volunteering their time. In 2009, CL/VU initiated multi-site meetings of the few BTA-style organizing groups that existed in Eastern Massachusetts at that time. Those gatherings grew and solidied into the 9-site regional NEW ROAD Network (New England Workers and Residents Organizing Against Displacement). As NEW ROAD further solidies as a freestanding network with shared leadership this year, CL/VU continues to play a signicant role.

As CLVU activists, Ramon and Debbie like going on the picket lines, defending their neighbors homes, and calling on the city to change its policies. Here in Brockton, a city with more foreclosures than any other city in Massachusetts, Ramon goes door to door, tells families about their rights, and invites them to Brockton BTA meetings. Ramon and Debbie now know they are not alone. They say: CL/VU feels like another family, a family that ghts for each other. Its a movement where we are working to get people back in charge, not the banks.

City Life/Vida Urbana contributes to a new model of networked local organizing

How do you mobilize a local base in ways that move a national agenda? The NEW ROAD Network has advanced anti-displacement organizing regionally and nationally this year through coordinated direct actions (echo actions) on a common target (e.g. Fannie and Freddie), coordination of messaging and strategy, and joint mobilization. Key NEW ROAD Accomplishments this year: Provided regional and national leadership in the campaign to replace FHFA Acting Director Ed DeMarco with new leadership who will consider reducing principal for underwater borrowers and helping them remain in their home Facilitated the spread of strong, local anti-foreclosure ordinances. Using Springelds Ordinance as a model, Lynn United for Change played a crucial role in passage of one of the strongest local anti-foreclosure ordinances in the country in May 2013. Merrimack Valley Project played a strong role in Lawrences passage of a mandatory mediation ordinance in April 2013 In February 2013, NEW ROAD launched a new shared campaign targeting predatory investors who are buying up foreclosed homes cheaply and displacing community members

NEW ROAD offers a model of a translocal organizing network that bridges local and national campaigns. Organizers in other regions have expressed interest in replicating NEW ROADs approach. Rising to meet our responsibility: As formal time-limited replication funding winds down, CL/VU must rise to meet its responsibility to the movement that has emerged out of the mortgage foreclosure crisis. A one-year transitional grant recently awarded by the Open Societies Foundation will enable CL/VU to support the original model replication sites to develop sustainability plans. This grant will also enable CL/VU to create and strengthen useful networking platforms for Bank Tenant organizing campaigns in different parts of the country.




City Life/Vida Urbana Financial Summary for FY 2013

City Life/Vida Urbana transforms the grassroots response to the foreclosure crisis around the country
One of the most helpful things [in the early development of Springfield No One Leaves]was coming and visiting the [Boston] BTA and feeling the absolute kind of joy, and power, and unity, and family in the room... Malcolm Chu, Lead Organizer, Springfield No One Leaves/Nada Se Mudie There are now 15 sites that are beating back the Bank Attack in their local area. (including NEW ROAD), 10 beyond Eastern Massachusetts, 7 outside of New England. Some of these, like SAFE in Seattle, Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, and Springeld No One Leaves were built from the ground up with the goal of replicating CL/VUs BTA organizing model. Others, such as three Chicago sites (Centro Autonomo, Albany Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign) and Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, have learned specic lessons from CL/ VUs training and/or resources, or adapted pieces of the BTA model into their existing models. The Take Back Your Homes group in Prince Georges County, MD was exported from Boston by two Harvard Law School alums. SAFE in Seattle formed in 2012, as an intentional effort to replicate CL/VUs Bank Tenant Association organizing model. Here is how they are ghting bank power with people power: City Life / Vida Urbana successfully completed its most recent scal year ending June 30, 2013 with a $26,000 operating surplus, also known as the unrestricted change to net assets. The operating results demonstrate CL/ VUs success in both fundraising, as well as the dedication to nancial discipline and control implemented after the previous years operating decit. This is specically reected by the over $500,000 raised from grants and contributions in FY2013 versus the approximately $400,000 raised in FY 2012. In addition, the nancial discipline is demonstrated by the fact that total expenses actually decreased between FY 2012 and FY 2013 from approximately $1,370,000 to $1,309,000. CL/VUs total net assets decreased during FY 2013 by just over $80,000 based on the combined impact of the $26,000 operating surplus and the reduction in temporarily restricted net assets of just over $107,000. The temporarily restricted net assets reduction is the direct result of CL/VU meeting funder restrictions on multi-year grants awarded in the previous years. CL/VUs balance sheet also illustrates that the organizations strong nancial condition continues with no long-term debt and sufcient liquidity.

Seattle, WA
Homelessness is unthinkable on the Micronesian island of Tonga where Luisa was born. In order to house 22 family members who have lost their homes, Luisa has taken over the vacant home adjacent to hers. Divorced in 2005, then victim of a scam, she was on the brink of foreclosure and on the brink of giving up when canvassers from SAFE came to her door in the summer of 2012. SAFE protested at her foreclosure auction sale, which was then cancelled. They picketed the business of a corrupt realtor in order to win Luisa the right to negotiate directly with the bank. In conjunction with other community organizations, SAFE and Luisas family are currently working with a land trust to gain community control of one of these homes. Luisas older brother is negotiating purchase of the second home from Wells Fargo. Louisa and her son George have become key organizers and leaders with SAFE in Seattle. SAFE holds weekly BTA meetings, with 30-40 people attending, with political discussions at each meeting. SAFE employs a range of direct action tactics: bank pickets, auction protests, and eviction blockades, such as the 10-day round the clock blockade they held for ironworker Jeremy Griffen in May 2013. Its good to say there is something of Occupy that is still here. That resistance to the popular angst about Wall Street greed and corruption is still here in Seattle, still expressed through SAFE. I dont think there would have been a viable outlet without this [Bank Tenant Association] model here to express it... Joshua Farris, Organizer, SAFE in Seattle, WA




Stewart Lanier Michael R. Lapham David Ludlow Claudio Martinez Dick Monks Jeff & Janet Murray Abigail Norman Wayne ONeil & Maya Honda Lisa Owens Fran Perkins Mike and Becky Prokosch Amelie Ratliff Teddi Richman Charlie Rosenberg David & Kitty Rush Maura Russell Naiomi Sobel John Taylor Mike Wolfson

Nancy Falk Emily Feinberg Sandra & Chester Fenton Bruce Fleischer Brian Flynn Laura Foner Michael Gallagher Paula Georges Judith E. Goldberger Lev Grossman Angelica Harter Deborah Hayes William Newell Hendricks Art Johnson Andrei Joseph Silja Kallenbach Anne Kaufman Jennifer Klein Nancy Kurshman Marie Lamarre

Holladay Pontius Stephen Price Elizabeth Reardon Robert Restuccia Edward Rice Theresa Roberts Allan Rodgers Pam Rogers Neil Rohr Jay D. Rose Susan Rothenberg David Ruben David Russell Maura Russell Steve & Honey Schnapp David Schwartz Robert Schwartz Carol Shea Ellen Simons Eleanor Smith Judith Smith Judith Somberg Lauren Song Christopher Souris Dina Sousa Herbert & Jean St. Simon Victoria Steinitz Michele Sternthal Rebecca Studer Gail Sylvester Richard Thal Jeremy Thompson Bonnie Tumelty Joe Vallely Jim Wallace Tamsen Wassell Dan Weinstein David Weinstein Douglas Weinstock David Weintraub Donald Weitzman Dorothy Weitzman Anne Wheelock Matt Whitermore Jeanne Widmer Peggy Weisenberg Geoffrey Wilkinson Henry and Sheli Wortis Sharon Wright Monona Yin Glenda Yoder

Sustaining Individual Donors Elizabeth Aeschlimann Anthony Allen Eric Anderson Sandra Bailey Marie Bain Henrietta Barnes Rebecca Batorsky Dawn Belkin-Martinez Erik and Jill Berg David Bor

Jonathan Leaning Betsy Leondar-Wright Angela Letizia Nina Lev Judith Liben Penn Loh Debbie Lubarr David Ludlow Brinton Lykes Martha Mangelsdorf Michele Martin Martha Matlaw John May Ellie McCormick Michael Meacham Stephen Meacham Virginia Miller John Monks Catherine Mooney Kevin Murray Jeff and Janet Murray Philip Myrick Sue Naimark Andrea Nash Ann Neiderkorn Vincent ODonnell Robert Oldshue Tom OMalley Mitchell Oscar Christine Pardew Joanie Parker Cynthia Peters

Foundations Access Strategies Fund Boston Bar Foundation Coalition on Occupied Hoems in Foreclosure (COHiF) Common Stream Harvard University (Oak Foundation) Hyams Foundation MassUniting Herman and Frieda L. Miller Foundation Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation Right to the City Alliance United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley Vision Fund of the Boston Foundation Major Individual Donors Michael Blim Jim Campen Ian Cornelius Diane Cummings Cameron Duncan Farhad Ebrahimi Michael Felsen Alice F. Fitzpatrick Angela Fleck Clardy Ann Fleck-Henderson David Green Rachel Hayman Joshua G. Healey Government City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC) Benjamin R. Hiller Thomas Jalkut Lee Kamentsky Tom Kieffer Mary Ann Kopydlowski

Debra Borkovitz Hildreth Brewington Susan and Alan Burt Keith Burt Ilene Carver Deborah Chassler Sara Cheek Lisa Clauson Leslie Cohen Andrea Condit Mary Jo Connelly MA Committee of Correspondence Sonny Crispin Zoe Cronin Olivia DeBree Osazee Egharevba Louise Elving Reita Ennis Anne Erde Tess Ewing Esther Ewing