Boston, MA

Coakley sues property owner

June 07, 2010
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has brought a lawsuit against a Saugus real estate company for allegedly using the Craigslist Web site to post discriminatory housing advertisements.
     Eastern Property Management Group, Inc., is charged with posting four discriminatory rental advertisements on Craigslist in the first two months of 2010. The ads allegedly discriminated against families with young children and against recipients of public assistance.
     The ads, all based on the same Chelsea apartment, allegedly stated that "the apartment may have lead paint so if you have young children under 6 years old or are on Section 8 this will not work for you."
     Under the Massachusetts lead paint law, a property owner cannot refuse to rent to a prospective tenant with young children over the possible presence of lead paint in the apartment.

Rental market wired for discrimination

June 01, 2010
It helps to be white if you are trying to rent in Boston. At least those who advertise apartments on Craigslist clearly prefer to rent to white rather than to African-American or Hispanic households.
     According to real estate industry sources and a 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center, more than half of all homeseekers today utilize the Internet in their search for housing with Craigslist being the primary search engine. Between January and May of 2009 we submitted responses to a representative sample of 739 housing providers who advertised rental units on Craigslist in metro Boston. Each provider received similar e-mail responses from three equally qualified “testers” - one with a white sounding name (Matthew O’Brien or Neil Baker); one with an African-American sounding name (Tremayne Robinson or Tyrone Jackson); and one with a Hispanic sounding name (Pedro Gonzales or Jorge Rodriguez). (We also tested 726 housing providers in Dallas with similar results.)

Allston's Micozzi Management and Lori Falzarano pay fined for discrimination

March 11, 2010
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Attorney General’s office entered into a settlement on Thursday with an Allston-based real estate company resolving allegations that the company refused to rent to a family with a small child. The Assurance of Discontinuance filed in Suffolk Superior Court, against Micozzi Management, Inc., and its agent Lori Falzarano, orders the company to pay the family $3,000 and to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy and conduct employee fair housing training.
     The Assurance of Discontinuance also bars Micozzi Management, Inc. from discriminating in the future.
     “We are facing critical housing needs in the Commonwealth and the strain on families with children is particularly great,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “Realtors, brokers and landlords in Massachusetts should understand that discrimination against families with children is illegal, and we will seek to hold accountable those who break the law.”

Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office obtains consent judgment against Cambridge Realtor

February 15, 2010
Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office has obtained a consent judgment resolving a housing discrimination case against Michael Kanter and his former employer Apartment Rental Experts, LLC, who are accused of violating state anti-discrimination laws by refusing to rent an apartment to a Cambridge resident because he participates in the Section 8 housing subsidy program.
     The judgment, signed today by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Charles T. Spurlock, requires Kanter, of Acton, and Apartment Rental Experts, which has offices in Cambridge and Somerville, to pay the victim $8,500 and prohibits them from discriminating against any person who applies for housing with a Section 8 voucher, or otherwise discriminating against any person in violation of state and federal fair housing laws.
     "Housing subsidy programs provide invaluable assistance to thousands of low income tenants in Massachusetts. These programs are particularly important during these difficult economic times as families are facing job losses and critical housing needs," said Attorney General Coakley. "Landlords in Massachusetts should understand that discrimination against prospective tenants who receive public assistance is against the law and will not be tolerated."

Coakley sues trio over housing bias

January 06, 2010
A Boston real estate management company, its agent, and a property owner are being sued by Attorney General Martha Coakley who says they violated the state’s antidiscrimination law.
     Coakley’s office filed a complaint in Suffolk Superior Court this week claiming that Mediate Management Company, agent Deborah Kooring, and property owner Fenway Buttrick LLC refused to renew a family’s lease on an apartment last year after the family asked that the property be inspected for lead contamination. A young child was living in the apartment at the time.

Coakley gets settlement with property management company

December 16, 2009
A consent judgment has been obtained by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's office against a property management company and its former manager to resolve allegations that they violated state anti-discrimination laws.
     Cornerstone Corporation and former manager Linda Evans were alleged to have falsely accused a foster parent of operating a day-care business out of her home and subsequently attempting to evict her.
     "It is a violation of state and federal law to discriminate against foster parents or anyone else based on the composition of one's family," Coakley said.
     "Foster parents serve a critical need in providing and supporting the care, welfare, and safety of children across the Commonwealth."

Feds charge condos with bias against kids

December 08, 2009
It’s the ultimate case of “pay to play.”
     A Methuen condo complex has been fining parents $10 a day when kids play in the site’s back yard - a move that’s run afoul of federal housing-discrimination laws.
     “It’s clearly illegal to impose different rules and restrictions on families with children,” John Trasvina of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said yesterday in announcing charges against Stonecleave Village condos.
     HUD claims the complex broke the U.S. Fair Housing Act by fining families whose children played in a backyard common area last summer. The law bans discrimination based on “familial status.”
     

East Boston landlord settles over tenant discrimination allegations

November 03, 2009
An East Boston landlord has agreed to a settlement with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's office that resolves allegations of unfair discrimination against prospective tenants.
     Russell Tremaine is alleged to have violated the state's anti-discrimination and lead paint laws when he denied a couple with a young child the right to rent an apartment in East Boston because of the present of lead paint.
     Tremaine is alleged to have told the prospective tenants that he would not de-lead the apartment and, as a result, would not rent them the unit.

Waltham real estate firm ordered to help woman it denied

September 18, 2009
A Waltham real estate company will have to help a woman it allegedly refused to help because she had a Section 8 housing subsidy, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley's office.
     Under a settlement, Chiccarelli Real Estate, Inc., must help the woman find an apartment and pay a portion of the rent, according to a release from the AG's office.
     According to the complaint sent to the AG's Office, the woman was told by an employee of Chiccarelli Real Estate that they had too many Section 8 vouchers already and could not take any more. The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston tested the company the next day and two testers spoke to another employee at Chiccarelli Real Estate who is alleged to have refused to rent for the same reason.
     The Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits real estate companies, agents, landlords and others involved in property rentals from discriminating against people with state or federal housing subsidies.

OPINION: Accessible housing still a dream for many

December 26, 2008
Since the election of Barack Obama, there have been frequent discussions about the implications of this historic election on the state of inequality in the nation.
     Many have said that the landslide election of an African-American raised in a humble setting by a single parent demonstrates that while racism and socio-economic inequality are stains on America’s history, they are no longer a significant part of our societal fabric.
     However, this pivotal moment should not cloud the truth about social and racial inequality in the commonwealth today. Greater Boston remains one of the most segregated metropolitan areas in the nation. The bulk of the commonwealth’s people of color, regardless of their incomes, reside in urban centers.
     In fact, the commonwealth’s seven largest cities (Boston, Springfield, Worcester, Lowell, Brockton, New Bedford and Fall River) have only 20 percent of the total population, but are home to 41 percent of the commonwealth’s people of color and 40 percent of residents living below the federal poverty line.
     Multi-family housing that is accessible to low- and moderate-income households is nearly impossible to build under local land use regulations in a majority of the commonwealth’s municipalities. In many areas, the lack of affordable housing could be improved with a change in zoning that would increase the number of multi-family dwellings.

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