The following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office to SOURCE media.
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, August 20, announced the creation of the Neighborhood Renewal Division within her office to assist communities in the creation and preservation of safe, habitable homes across the state.
AG Healey has also named Amber Villa Chief of the new Neighborhood Renewal Division.
“The Neighborhood Renewal Division will build on the success of our office’s Abandoned Housing Initiative by addressing the state’s shortage of safe, habitable, and affordable housing,” said Healey. “Amber’s leadership on this issue has already moved the dial forward on hundreds of projects and partnerships across the state, and we are excited to have her at the helm of this new division.”
The Neighborhood Renewal Division has been created from the AG’s Abandoned Housing Initiative, a program created in 1995 to address abandoned properties in Boston and Springfield and expanded in 2009 after the foreclosure crisis led to a dramatic increase in the number of abandoned properties statewide. AHI works in 146 communities across the state, and between 2017 and 2019, helped improve more than 450 properties and recover more than $1 million in unpaid property taxes and municipal fees.
The Neighborhood Renewal Division will continue the AHI receivership and grants programs and expand on AHI’s work to transform vacant properties into new homes for Massachusetts families.
Amber Villa has been the Director of AHI since 2016. She joined the AG’s Office in 2008 as an Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Division where she worked on significant housing and mortgage lending matters, including the National Mortgage Settlement, a large-scale investigation and settlement with Countrywide Mortgage, and assisted in the design and launch of the AG’s HomeCorps program. She also served as the Supervising Attorney for Tobacco Enforcement to publish statewide regulations to prevent the sale of e-cigarettes to children. Prior to joining the AG’s Office, Villa practiced at Dechert LLP and Sally & Fitch. She is a graduate of Boston College Law School and Colorado College, and is a Cambridge resident, where she lives with her husband and son.