Bethany Serota appointed Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Fair Housing and Equity
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the appointment of Bethany Serota as Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Fair Housing and Equity. In her role as Deputy Director, Serota is responsible for managing the day to day operations and the administration of the Office to ensure that the Office effectively engages and serves residents, especially the most vulnerable, and advocates for fair housing and equity, to reach the Office’s mission of addressing discrimination and ensuring fair access to housing, public services, accommodations, and participation in activities for all people of Boston.
“Housing equity is one of our intentional priorities to make sure that everyone has access to housing without fear of discrimination,” said Mayor Walsh. “ Bethany has a long history of promoting social justice and equity, and I am proud to have her at the Office of Housing and Equity and doing the great work to sustain equitable access to housing throughout the city of Boston.”
Serota received her B.A. from Temple University and J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. As a litigator, Serota represented clients who could not afford to pay for legal counsel and were challenged by a number of systemic barriers. Serota also represented clients in real estate transactions as well as in housing, probate, and family court matters. Additionally, Serota’s advocacy extended across international borders, as she worked with refugees and asylum seekers in the Middle East.
In the spirit of the Boston Urban Youth Foundation, Serota Co-Founded and Co-Directs G.I.R.L.S. R.U.L.E., an empowerment program for teenage girls in Roxbury. Serota is an active member of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, where she serves as an Officer on the Board of Directors as the Secretary, and as a member of the Community Service and External Affairs Committees. Serota is also a member of the Citizen’s Housing and Planning Association, the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, and the Nine Streets Neighborhood Association in Roxbury.
“I am extremely thankful to Mayor Walsh for the opportunity to serve the extraordinary people of the City of Boston, and to work collaboratively with the administration and external partners in our mission to ensure that the City of Boston is an equitable city for all,” said Bethany Serota. “Born out of the Civil Rights Movement, our Office has been working to eradicate housing discrimination and create equitable access to housing opportunities for everyone. I have devoted my life and career to promoting social justice and equity, specifically for marginalized and underserved populations, so I am excited to work alongside the Mayor to carry out the critical work that our Office undertakes.”
Under the umbrella of the Mayor’s Office of Fair Housing and Equity, the Boston Fair Housing Commission (BFHC) has the authority and jurisdiction to investigate and enforce housing discrimination cases within the City of Boston, in partnership with HUD and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Constituents who believe they have faced housing discrimination as a result of any of the 14 protected classes may inquire and potentially file a formal complaint with the Office.
The Office of Fair Housing and Equity also works closely with the Department of Neighborhood Development, the Office of Housing Stability, and the Boston Home Center to affirmatively further the city's mission to increase access to housing opportunities. Additionally, the Office engages in targeted outreach and education to residents, as well as training to housing providers, landlords, tenants, agents, and homebuyers to ensure an understanding of Fair Housing Laws and rights.
On April 13, 2019, the Mayor’s Office of Fair Housing will host its annual Fair Housing Open House. The Open House event is an opportunity for constituents to learn about the Boston Fair Housing Commission, which investigates complaints of housing discrimination within the City. Constituents will also have the opportunity to connect with other City housing agencies, departments, and partners who will provide information about affordable housing options for renters and buyers, as well as other related housing resources. This event will consist of guest speakers, informational sessions, and outreach materials related to housing resources in Boston.
To further the City’s commitment to housing equity, Mayor Walsh included in his 2019 legislative agenda, An Act to Protect Elderly Tenants. The passage of the bill would prohibit no-fault eviction of people over 75 years of age. The bill would also require landlords to provide notice to the local community at the same time the eviction notice is served to an elderly tenant.