Florence H. Hagins obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Florence H. Hagins

June 26, 1947 - March 21, 2015

Obituary


Florence Hagins, a mother and community activist who convinced bank presidents to increase mortgage lending in Boston’s neighborhoods of color, died Saturday March 21, 2015 at her home in Jacksonville, Florida. She was 67.





Florence transitioned from this earth to join her parents, Hazel Louise McCarthy and Carlton Robart McCarthy ll. Her aunt May Evelyn Diggs and her sister the late Charlene McCarthy Beavers.





Florence was educated in the Boston Public School system and graduated from Jamaica Plain High School.





Florence worked in...

Florence Hagins, a mother and community activist who convinced bank presidents to increase mortgage lending in Boston’s neighborhoods of color, died Saturday March 21, 2015 at her home in Jacksonville, Florida. She was 67.





Florence transitioned from this earth to join her parents, Hazel Louise McCarthy and Carlton Robart McCarthy ll. Her aunt May Evelyn Diggs and her sister the late Charlene McCarthy Beavers.





Florence was educated in the Boston Public School system and graduated from Jamaica Plain High School.





Florence worked in the health care field for 23 years before her tenure at MAHA.





Hagins retired in 2005 as assistant director of the Dorchester-based Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA). She was a life-long Boston resident until her retirement. She grew up in the Whittier public housing development in Roxbury and in 1991 became the first homeowner in an affordable mortgage program designed to reverse decades of redlining by area banks.





Hagins quickly became the chief advocate of the innovative mortgage plan that has now reached 18,300 low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers across Massachusetts, half being homeowners of color.





"I was the first person to get a SoftSecond mortgage and it changed my life", said Hagins in 2011 in advance of a MAHA ceremony honoring 20 women who worked to change bank lending practices in neighborhoods like Dorchester and Roxbury. "I say this because it not only allowed me to provide a stable home for many years and to save for retirement but it gave me the opportunity to spend many years working with an unbelievable group of women who wouldn't stop fighting for their community."



In 1990, Hagins attended a community meeting at a church on Talbot Avenue in Dorchester and learned about the soon-to-be launched program. Her pending mortgage application was denied because the private mortgage insurer thought she was not a good risk. Florence told the Banker & Tradesman in 2001, “It was on a Wednesday that I got the denial letter, and on Friday I got a call from one of the organizers here at MAHA, and she told me that the Soft Second [program] was up and running. I called…the bank and had someone in my house on Sunday night from Shawmut,” she said. She was approved and closed on her new home on Dorchester’s Jones Hill in January 1991. “I was thrilled.”



Later that year, she began volunteering her time at MAHA’s classes for first-time buyers. “I would tell them that if I could buy a house as a single mom with a modest salary, they could do it too.”



In 1996, Hagins joined MAHA full-time and counseled thousands of first-time homebuyers over the years. “It was a good feeling when I would see people again and they would say ‘I just bought a house.’ It was almost like me buying my house all over again. It’s such a great feeling to think that you actually helped somebody. Then, as a homeowner, seeing the difference in your own community; the stabilization of your own community makes a big difference.”



Florence McCarthy Hagins began her second career after moving from her job at Boston Medical Center to MAHA’s Dorchester Avenue headquarters. “She counseled thousands of first-time homebuyers, established a groundbreaking post-purchase education and discount program, negotiated Community Reinvestment Act agreements with banks for over $1.5 billion in mortgage lending, testified before Congress, led a grassroots movement of women of color to reform bank lending practices in Boston, and chaired community meetings with more than 1,000 people and the likes of Mayor Thomas Menino, Governor Mitt Romney, and Congressman Barney Frank,” said MAHA board president Esther Maycock-Thorne. “She was a leader in every sense of the word.”



She leaves to cherish many happy and fond memories, her daughter, Andraea Hagins Green (Deon), who lovingly cared for her mother at home until her passing. Her siblings Gladys McKamey Mungo of NJ, Carlton R McCarthy (Janet) of FL, Luanne McCarthy Martel and Milton McCarthy (Jackie) of MA. She also leaves many nieces and nephews and extended family and friends.



MAHA is creating the Florence McCarthy Hagins Endowment Fund. In lieu of flowers, her family asks to please send donations in her name payable to MAHA. The address is MAHA, 1803 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA 02124.