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Harvard Law School’s Project No One Leaves Hosts Conference on Continuing Foreclosure Crisis

By Tyler S. B. Olkowski, Crimson Staff Writer

Project No One Leaves, a foreclosure resistance organization run by Harvard Law School students, hosted its fourth annual conference this weekend.

The conference brought together community organizers, attorneys, and activists from around the United States to share and discuss strategies for defending those threatened by or going through foreclosure.

“There are a lot of different ways that you can fight the foreclosure crisis and the conference is a great way for people from different groups…to put their heads together and figure out what we can do about this crisis,” Matthew E. Nickell, the co-president of Project No One Leaves and a student at the Law School, said.

Attendees from New York, California, Washington, Illinois, and elsewhere discussed the stabilization of neighborhoods, government responses to foreclosure, the role of banks in the crisis, and other topics.

“We are always after a multi-faceted, national housing justice alliance…and this conference is another chance for people to get together to talk about how to do that,” said Steve F. Meacham, the organizing coordinator for City Life/Vida Urbana, a local foreclosure resistance organization, who also assisted in planning the conference.

Nickell stressed that the housing crisis has not ended, citing numerous legal claims that remain active and the continued struggles of those facing foreclosure. Nickell also said the crisis has shifted over the last six years as new challenges have arisen.

Attendees at the conference noted that the collaboration across various professional and community sectors gave them a better understanding of the challenges each group is facing.

“Much of what I found valuable about the conference today was seeing both how my work integrates into a larger picture, and how I can tailor what I do in coordination with the organizers, attorneys, and city representatives in order to have a bigger impact,” Daniel D. Bahls, a staff attorney at Community Legal Aid, said.

Project No One Leaves was established by members of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, the oldest student-run legal services organization in the country, and works in conjunction with City Life/Vida Urbana.

The conference is one part of the work of Project No One Leaves. The organization focuses mostly on local communities where they help tenants and homeowners, according to David G. Curtis, the conference coordinator and a student at the Law School.

“We are out canvassing every weekend,” Curtis said. “We are going out to Dorchester and to Roxbury and to local communities to inform tenants and homeowners of their rights, so that they don’t get pushed out of their homes by irresponsible bank policies or poor government decisions.”

As the struggles of those facing foreclosures and displacement pressures change, Curtis said Project No One Leaves hopes to remain a constant advocate for tenants and homeowners.

“There is momentum [for this cause], and it should be used to help people who are struggling to just have the basic right to remain in their home,” Curtis said.

Staff writer Tyler S. Olkowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @OlkowskiTyler.

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