Work-study project takes aim at foreclosed homes

Mayor Tom Menino visited a group of teenagers working at 40 Mountain Ave. in Dorchester on Tuesday to kick off the Clean Team, a program which employs the youths in maintenance capacities in foreclosed homes across the city.

The City of Boston has purchased 50 foreclosed properties in several neighborhoods around the city, which will be cleaned, maintained, lightly repaired and landscaped by teenagers, all young men from the Dorchester Youth Collaborative and the Dorchester Branch of the Catholic Charities.

“I know that some of these kids get frustrated because problems in their educations, and with other problems in thier lives,” said the Mayor. “This program provides them a way to build skills that they can use as they enter the workforce.”

The program is offered as work study for the teenagers, several of whom are saving to pay for college or are preparing to take thier GED exams. The workers will put in 3-4 hours of labor daily before completing the same amount of time in study, for which they will receive a moderate stipend.

“We want to stress the community service aspect of this program, but we also want to build career skills in these young men,” said DYC mentor Greg Hill. “For some of them, the work that they do serves as something that they can take ownership of, something that they can be proud of.”

The Clean Team is expected to be in operation through the spring. The Mayor indicated that he has hopes to extend the Clean Team to other neighborhood youth groups in the city.

“I think this is a good idea,” said J Shaun Raddick, 19, of Dorchester. “I feel like all I have is free time, and this is a good way to get some experience for my resume.”