Mayor Martin J. Walsh's Fair Housing Commission Receives Legislative Boost from Governor Deval Patrick
May 29, 2015
Mayor Martin J. Walsh thanked Governor Deval Patrick for signing H.3625 An Act Relative to the Powers of the Boston Fair Housing Commission, sponsored by Majority Whip Byron Rushing, into law. This Home Rule Petition updates the enabling legislation for the City of Boston’s Fair Housing Commission (BFHC), rendering it consistent with current state and federal housing discrimination laws.
The Fair Housing Commission is housed in the newly-re-named Office of Fair Housing and Equity, formerly known as the Office of Civil Rights. The Fair Housing Commission a) investigates housing discrimination and city vendor CORI ordinance compliance, b) reviews affirmative marketing plans for city aided housing developments, and c) provides affordable housing listings.
“The powers of the Boston Fair Housing Commission have not been evaluated since 1994. Governor Patrick made an important decision about the way we respond to discrimination by signing this Home Rule into law,” said Mayor Walsh. “There is no place for discrimination of any kind here in the City of Boston.”
H.3625, now Chapter 110 of the Acts of 2014:
? Adds the term “gender identity” as a protected class, and ensures that any additional protected classes that may be added to state of federal law in the future will fall under BFHC’s enforcement authority.
? Clarifies that, in accordance with state and federal laws, no dwelling owner is allowed to publish discriminatory ads or make discriminatory statements.
? Codifies the existing practices that judicial review of BFHC decisions are in accordance with MGL Chapter 30A, Section 14, the standard use for review of most state and administrative agencies.
The Home Rule Petition will update the Commission’s 1994 statute, which granted the City substantial housing discrimination enforcement powers. At present, Boston is one of only two municipalities with housing discrimination enforcement powers similar to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and accepted by the United States Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP).
“We extend our appreciation to Governor Deval Patrick and the Legislature for taking steps to ensure that the rights of protected classes are respected and acknowledged in this legislation,” said Dion Irish, Executive Director of Boston’s Office of Fair Housing and Equity. “A lot of progress has been made, but we can do more to advance opportunities for everyone in Boston.”
“We commend the City of Boston for taking steps to ensure that transgender people have proper recourse if they experience housing discrimination,” said Jennifer Levi, Director of the Transgender Rights Project of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “Unfortunately, GLAD too often hears from transgender people who have difficulty finding or maintaining safe, appropriate housing simply because of who they are. This home rule petition will make a tangible, positive difference in the lives of the many transgender people living in communities across the City.”
For more information regarding this legislation, please visit www.cityofboston.gov/fairhousing or call 617.635.2500.