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HUD   >   State Information   >   Massachusetts   >   News   >   HUDNo.2013-09-25
HUD No. 13-57
Rhonda Siciliano
(617) 994-8355
www.hud.gov/massachusetts
FOR RELEASE
Wednesday
September 25, 2013

 HUD AWARDS $1.6 MILLION TO MASSACHUSETTS TO FIGHT HOUSING DISCRIMINATION

BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded $1,688,843.00 to four fair housing organizations in Massachusetts in an effort to reduce housing discrimination. This funding is part of $38.3 million HUD awarded today to 95 fair housing organizations and other nonprofit agencies in 38 states. (Please see below for a summary of all MA grants awarded today.)

Funded through HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP), these grants will help enforce the Fair Housing Act through investigation and testing of alleged discriminatory practices.  In addition, the funds will educate housing providers, local governments and potential victims of housing discrimination about their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.

“Ending housing discrimination requires that we support the law of the land and protect the housing rights of individuals and families who would be denied those rights,” stated HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “Ensuring and promoting Fair Housing practices lies at the core of HUD’s mission and these grants enable community groups all over the nation to help families who are denied equal access to housing.

Barbara Fields, HUD New England Regional Administrator added, “No one should be denied the opportunity to live where they want because of how they look, their faith, whether they have children or because they have a disability. These grants will help us continue our efforts to educate the public and housing industry about their housing rights and responsibilities.”

FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate more than 9,300 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice), or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).

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Massachusetts Fair Housing grants

Boston

The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston (FHCGB) will use its $100,000 grant to work with university faculty to develop three academic modules that will integrate a fair housing curriculum with a student internship component within a public policy and an urban design course offered at Tufts University and an urban design seminar offered through the Gateways Program at the Boston Architectural College. The Tufts intern will research the effectiveness of Analysis of Impediments in Somerville, Medford, and Cambridge. The Boston Architectural College intern will help FHCGB set up fair housing/disability access trainings with the building departments of select cities and towns in FHCGB’s five-county area. FHCGB staff will participate in seminars, colloquia, and campus events for faculty and students that will present the latest trends in fair housing and its impact on the urban planning/design profession, emphasize fair housing as a long-term career possibility, and introduce students to fair housing professionals.

The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston (FHCGB) will use its $325,000 grant to serve the populations of the Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Plymouth counties, and the project will serve members of all protected classes under the Fair Housing Act and substantially equivalent state law. FHCGB will provide education and training sessions to housing seekers and housing providers in 12 languages and provide nine Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing trainings to non-profit organizations, cities, towns, and/or municipalities.

The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston (FHCGB) will use its $138,831.00 grant to serve Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Plymouth counties. FHCGB activities include: studying two area banks and preparing a report on how they maintain and market foreclosed properties in our service area, through testing and surveying those properties in certain neighborhoods; conducting outreach in the targeted service areas to uncover discriminatory violations of lending laws and conducting intake for individual and/or systemic cases based on those violations. In addition, FHCGB will recruit, train, and/or re-train 20 lending testers (including surveyors/investigators for the REO study) and will conduct 50 tests, using matched-pair tests, testing by bona fide home-seekers, and testers seeking pre-approvals for loans to determine if disparate treatment based on protected classes is detected. FHCGB will conduct 10 fair lending trainings as needed, as both a preventive measure and a remedial measure, after a fair lending enforcement action has been brought, provide outreach and five training sessions on fair lending issues to our partner organizations, and refer general housing counseling matters to our partner organizations.  FHCGB’s project will serve members of all protected classes under the Fair Housing Act and substantially equivalent state laws.

The Suffolk University Law School (SULS) Housing Discrimination Testing Program will use its $100,000 grant to create a fair housing fellowship program with four internships in government, nonprofit, and other organizations conducting fair housing work. Additionally, SULS will develop and offer a for-credit, experiential learning fair housing seminar course that will allow students to engage in the investigatory process related to fair housing testing. SULS will also host a one and a half day fair housing conference to bring together students and those working across the country to affirmatively further fair housing. Lastly, SULS will host quarterly meetings with students, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fair Housing Initiatives Program and Fair Housing Assistance Programs, and others engaged in fair housing work to discuss best practices and share knowledge.

The Suffolk University Law School (SULS) Housing Discrimination Testing Program (HDTP) will use its $175,000 grant to build its capacity to enforce the prohibitions on discrimination as set forth under the Fair Housing Act through testing, education, and bringing fair housing cases. The school program will continue its systemic and complaint-based testing in the Metropolitan Boston region, referring bona fide complaints to partners such as the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and the Boston Fair Housing Commission. In addition, the SULS-HDTP will offer educational opportunities including workshops, training sessions, and a fair housing course for law students. SULS is a HUD collegiate partner that has offered a fair housing course to law students and will work to continue to offer the course.

Holyoke

The Housing Discrimination Project Inc. (HDP) of Holyoke will use its $325,000 grant to address housing discrimination and segregation in an MSA currently ranked number one for White/Latino segregation. HDP will recruit testers and conduct complaint-based or systemic tests and systemic testing investigation to uncover discriminatory treatment of individuals with limited English proficiency, individuals with hearing, vision, and cognitive impairments, and discriminatory treatment of Latinos and African Americans by realtors and mortgage lenders. Where testing shows evidence of discrimination, HDP will seek to negotiate settlements that provide for broad affirmative relief including damages, training, affirmative advertising, and active monitoring. Meritorious complaints will be filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, or in court. HDP also will partner with the Holyoke Housing Authority to create a housing mobility program for Section 8 voucher holders, analyze zoning policies in local municipalities, and conduct education and outreach.

Worcester

Community Legal Aid, Inc. (CLA) of Worcester will use its $320,214 grant to perform fair housing investigation and enforcement activities throughout central Massachusetts. Specifically, CLA will conduct outreach and investigate complaints of housing discrimination, recruit and train testers for complaint-based and audit tests, and litigate meritorious cases, obtaining monetary damages and injunctive relief for clients. In addition, CLA will educate the region’s public housing authorities on their obligations to applicants and tenants with limited English proficiency and their fair housing responsibilities during the admissions and eviction processes.  In addition, CLA will develop and distribute fair housing materials, and hold community legal education workshops for vulnerable populations, housing providers, local government, and human service providers. Lastly, CLA will participate in a working group of the HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program-funded organizations and the state’s largest HUD Fair Housing Assistance Program.

Community Legal Aid, Inc. (CLA) of Worcester will use its $204,800 grant for investigation and enforcement activities for vulnerable homeowners at risk for, threatened with, or experiencing lending discrimination or foreclosure due to unfair lending practices and other violations of state and federal law throughout central and western Massachusetts. CLA will research to pinpoint concentrations of minority, immigrant, and other vulnerable homeowners for outreach to include legal lending, foreclosure, and mortgage rescue scheme education workshops, brochure creation and distribution, newspaper articles and advertisements, and local cable television appearances. To expand its systemic work, CLA will investigate whether communities of color are being affected by discriminatory maintenance and marketing of Real Estate Owned (REO) properties. Lastly, CLA will participate in a working group of the state’s FHIP-funded organizations and its largest FHAP to share best practices.