HOPE abruptly closes

Youth sports program on hold 

UNION AVE.—The Hispanic Office for Planning and Evaluation (HOPE), a major human services organization at 165 Brookside Ave. Ext., closed abruptly and without explanation last month.

The 40-year-old nonprofit “is undergoing major restructuring including closing offices, laying off staff, and other actions to meet the challenges of a major crisis in its fiscal condition,” according to a press release.

The Roberto Clemente 21 Sports Program, which is sponsored and managed by HOPE, is now locked out of its office, weeks before its baseball season is due to start.

“I’m up in the air right now,” said Alfredo Liriano, coordinator for the youth sports program. He said he has no access to his offices, uniforms or financial documents.

“There is no longer any HOPE,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. I don’t know who to go to.”

“HOPE’s board of directors made the decision to restructure with great sadness…Cumulative cutbacks in funding for key programs, particularly by key federal and state agencies…created a situation that prompted the need for the restructuring,” stated the press release, provided by James Jennings, HOPE’s vice president of the board. Jennings was unavailable for comment.

HOPE’s long-time executive director, José Durán, resigned in February. Other staff were laid off at the end of March, the release stated.

Russel Lopez and Mary Jo Marion, both members of HOPE’s board of directors, did not return phone calls.

Barbara Ferrer, Boston’s health commissioner, confirmed the closure of the HOPE offices. The Boston Public Health Commission office provided a grant to HOPE for its many AIDS-prevention-related programs and “worked with them to make ensure the people that were receiving services were transferred to other care providers,” Ferrer said.

“None of us were notified ahead of time,” she added.

HOPE’s mission, since its founding in 1971, has been to “improve the quality of life and to increase the number and range of opportunities for low-income and Latino individuals and families in Massachusetts,” according to its website. It was especially known for AIDS/HIV-related educational programs.