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The mission of the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston is to work to eliminate housing discrimination and promote open communities throughout the Greater Boston region. This work is possible because of contributors like you.
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Fair Housing Center
of Greater Boston
59 Temple Place #1105 Boston, MA 02111
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Do you believe you have experienced housing discrimination?
If so, please contact the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston to file a complaint.
Or visit us online for more information at http://bostonfairhousing.org/Pursuing-Rights.html
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Explore the historical shift from explicit to implicit policies affecting housing segregation in Eastern Massachusetts on our interactive timeline online now.
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Welcome to the FHCGB online newsletter!
Civil Rights Doors of Justice Open Wider for LGBT Community
We are pleased that the door of equal rights continues to open for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) members in communities nationwide. HUD's new proposed rule (further details in this issues) opens its core programs to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a continued step in the right direction to ensuring equal opportunity for all.
The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston continues to encourage all individuals who believe they are being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation or transgender status to contact our office to file a complaint. We have competent and caring advocates who will listen to your issues, assist you with filing your complaint with a government agency, mediate and serve as an advocate to protect your civil rights throughout the complaint process.
Moreover, we are pleased that individuals who believe their rights have been violated based on sexual orientation or transgender status are finding their way to the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston.
Finally, we welcome partnerships with organizations and individuals who are interested in supporting our efforts to end housing discrimination and protect civil rights for all individuals.
Proposed Rule: Equal Access to Housing in HUD programs- Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) operates under the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 that prohibits discrimination in rental, sales and financing on the basis race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and familial status. HUD has recently published a proposed rule to ensure equal access to HUD agency programs, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently 20 states, the District of Columbia, and over 200 localities (cities & counties) recognize that people have historically been marginalized and excluded from housing opportunities based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And, most importantly, communities, families and individuals impacted by this unnecessary discrimination deserve legal protections. This proposed rule is programmatic, i.e. it would only apply to all HUD programs and financing.Specifically the proposed rule would:
- Add sexual orientation and gender identity as a protection for all federally funded housing programs
- Expand the definition of "family" to include LGBT families and households. This would allow LGBT families and households full access to rental assistance programs, such as Section 8 vouchers, and homeownership through programs like FHA mortgage loans that currently make up about 1/3 of the market.
- Prohibit "...owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing or housing whose financing is insured by HUD from inquiring about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant"
Though this rule does not recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the federal Fair Housing Act, many LGBT activists recognize it as evidence that the country is moving in the right direction. "This is a fundamental issue of fairness," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans." Along with this proposed rule, HUD is conducting the first-ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing.
For a copy of the Proposed Rule: Click here
Comments on this rule are due by March 25th 2011.Please contact the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston if you or your organization is interested in a Fair Housing training to learn more about these laws and ways to protect your community. Call our Education & Outreach program at 617-399-0491.
Staff Spotlight: Debjani Brahmachari
Executive Assistant/Office Manager
When you call or come to The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston, do you wonder about the cheerful voice and or the radiant smile that greets you? The voice and smile belong to Debjani Brahmachari the spirited Executive Assistant/Office Administrator.
Debjani was born in Assam, India and lived there until she moved to Calcutta with her family and received her graduate degree in computer studies.
In 2009, Debjani came to the Fair Housing Center. She has a degree in mathematics and computers and manages the complex grant budget requirements.
As for her life away from FHCGB she loves spending time with her family and friends. She enjoys shopping for herself and her daughter and creatively cooks Indian and American food. She is fluent in 4 languages; Bengali, English, Hindi and Assamese. She married a Boston based Indian architect and then moved to Boston. They are happily married with one daughter, Trisha age six.
Board Spotlight: Chi Chi Wu
Chi Chi Wu is a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit focusing on marketplace justice for low-income consumers.
Chi Chi is an expert on consumer credit issues ranging from credit cards to medical debt to fair credit reporting. She is the co-author of the legal manuals Fair Credit Reporting Act and Credit Discrimination
, and a contributing author to Cost of Credit, Truth in Lending, and Collection Actions
. Chi Chi frequently serves as a resource for policymakers and the media on consumer credit issues. Chi Chi has previously worked in the Consumer Protection Division at the Massachusetts Attorney General's office and the Asian Outreach Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services.
Chi Chi Wu's concern for economic justice for low income people is her pathway to The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston. Chi Chi grew up in the New York/New Jersey area. Her undergraduate schooling was at Johns Hopkins where she was a psychology major and continued her education at Harvard Law School. It was there that she developed a desire to work in public interest law.Ms. Wu lives with her husband and son in Brookline and collects art glass paperweights.
In 2009, a complainant came to the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston seeking our assistance in challenging the management company of the North Shore apartment complex where he lived.
He had been harassed by his neighbors and was frequently called derogatory names and slurs based on his race and sexual orientation. He also had his car damaged on more than one occasion. All this occurred while management ignored his many requests to intervene.
As Massachusetts has had statewide anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation since 1989 (long before HUD proposed a rule for federal protection), FHCGB filed a complaint on behalf of the complainant on the basis of his sexual orientation, as well as his race and national origin. Prior to a cause finding, the parties reached a settlement in 2010 in which the respondents agreed to pay the complainant a monetary award and move him to a new, and safe, apartment complex.
If you or anyone you know is facing housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status, please contact FHCGB so we may work with you to enjoy housing free from discrimination.
Highlights in National Housing Discrimination Cases
MICHIGAN PROPERTY OWNER AND MANAGER ORDERED TO PAY $82,500 IN CIVIL PENALTIES IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASE
On March 4th 2011, a federal court in Detroit has ordered a Ronnie Peterson, Michigan property owner and Washtenaw County Commissioner, and his former manager Glen E. Johnson to pay a total of $82,500 in civil penalties in a sexual harassment case. The civil penalty is in addition to the $115,000 jury verdict obtained by the department on behalf of six victims of the sexual harassment in August 2010.
PHILADELPHIA MOTHER AWARDED $40,000 IN DAMAGES FOR
In Philadelphia, PA Robin Link prevailed in a case against her landlord who evicted her after finding out that she adopted a child. She was wrongfully evicted based on family status and was thus awarded damages for wrongful eviction. Local advocate Jim Berry from the Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia commented in response to this case, "This region has a very high level of housing discrimination." He further stated that one in five families in the area will face this type of discrimination.
Want to help us get the word out about fair housing?
Please contact us if you would like to help us get the word
out in one or more of the following ways:
We are trying to increase our capacity to document housing discrimination; please contact us if you are interested.
- Email blasts to listserves
- Newsletter blurb insert
- Announcement link for volunteer opportunities on website
- Place flyers/pamphlets on bulletin/resource table
- Meeting Presentation Platform to staff/constituents
Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston