Boston landlords, brokers accused of discriminating against low-income tenants – NBC Boston

A lawsuit filed Wednesday is accusing 20 Boston-area landlords and brokers of housing discrimination against low-income tenants using housing vouchers.

The suit was brought by the nonprofit Housing Rights Initiative (HRI) and filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights and Handley Farah & Anderson PLLC. It alleges that the landlords and brokers refused to accept government housing vouchers, often referred to as Section 8 vouchers, therefore denying rentals to poor tenants. State law specifically prohibits landlords from discriminating against prospective tenants using housing vouchers.

Defendants named include property owners as well as larger real estate companies. The suit alleges that in multiple instances, these defendants stated housing vouchers would not be an acceptable form of payment.

The filing notes that Massachusetts is in the midst of a housing crisis, and refusing these vouchers can prolong a renter’s search and keep people in homeless shelters, on the streets, or in other substandard housing. On top of that, housing voucher recipients have 120 days to secure housing once a voucher is issued or they can lose it.

The lawsuit also claims these discriminatory practices exacerbate Boston’s racially segregated housing patterns.

“Bostonians of color are overwhelmingly concentrated in lower-income neighborhoods with fewer public resources than similarly situated white families. Voucher discrimination perpetuates this unacceptable reality by limiting the options available to voucher holders outside of those neighborhoods,” the court paperwork reads.

HRI said it has testers working as part of its investigations into housing discrimination. The lawsuit included screenshots of text messages between those testers and property owners or brokers. In multiple conversations, the landlords and brokers said Section 8 would not be accepted at their properties, despite the anti-discrimination law.

“As the largest fair housing lawsuit by defendant size in Massachusetts history, this lawsuit sends a clear message to every landlord and broker in the state: if you are a real estate company that discriminates against families and children with housing vouchers, the question of whether you will be caught is not a matter of if, but when,” said Aaron Carr, Founder and Executive Director of Housing Rights Initiative. 

The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, is the first of its kind in Massachusetts, Lawyers for Civil Rights said.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Get our latest downloads and information first. Complete the form below to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

    Input this code: captcha