A Boston real estate broker who charged he was fired by his real estate company employer because he rented an apartment to an African-American family, settled his case for $10,000 in a consent order signed before hearing. HUD Administrative Law Judge Alan Heifetz approved the consent decree in February 1994.
The incident sparked a controversy over integration in a traditionally Italian-American neighborhood in Boston's North End. The apartment rented to the Black family was soon vandalized with racist graffiti.
The initial complaint was filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, by the former broker, John Maloni of Boston. He said the owner of the Richey Marketing Group, a North Street real estate firm, fired him. Richey told him several other landlords were removing their listings from the agency "because their office had rented to a Black person." The firm's owner, William Richey, denied Maloni's charges and said his firing had "nothing to do with" the controversy.
Front Door Painted "no niggers"
Maloni was the broker who rented an apartment on North Bennett Street to a black woman and her son who had lived in the neighborhood for two years. As they were moving into the apartment the last week of July, they found the words "no niggers" spray-painted on their front door.
Several North End residents and city officials denounced the vandalism and said they welcome blacks to the neighborhood. But some other residents told The Boston Globe in July of 1992 that "we don't want any Blacks here" and "we never want to see them." One 17 year-old said, "We want this to stay an Italian community - no Blacks, Irish, Portuguese."
While during the last 15 years many young professionals of all backgrounds have moved into the neighborhood site of Old North Church and the Italian restaurants along Hanover Street - the North End continues to be identified as an Italian-American enclave.
Michael T. Duffy, chairman of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, said he believes there is "a brazen attitude that was racist and exclusive" among some North End residents and real estate agents and said, "We want to take that on." He said the decision to make a complaint against the one discriminating firm "has implications for the entire neighborhood."
Richey, Maloni's former employer, said, "Mr. Maloni was not separated from our firm for any reason having to do with discrimination." In his MCAD complaint, Maloni said of his being fired, "I believe the reason is because I rented an apartment to a Black person. Therefore, I charge respondents with unlawful discrimination against me."
Landlords Make Threats, Removed Listings
Maloni said Richey "...informed me that numerous threats had been made against me, that more landlords had called removing their listings from the office and that his wife was fearful of me being hurt and that someone would find the keys to the office on me and then enter the office... Mr. Richey asked me for the keys to the office." The following Monday, Maloni said in the complaint, he came by the office and Richey "refused to let me in," as reported by The Boston Globe.
Duffy said a "testing" operation involving five North End agencies was started three days before Maloni notified the agency he was considering making a complaint. He filed his complaint with MCAD in August 1992.
At the agency that would face the bias charges, both white men were promptly called back and given appointments, but the black investigator was repeatedly put off and asked many more questions about his background and employment than the whites, agency officials said.
The complaint filed with HUD became a HUD Secretary's charge July 23, 1994. Complainant Maloni alleged that he was fired because of pressure in the community. He intervened in the HUD charge and was represented by Nadine Cohen of the Boston Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and by Michael Avery, an attorney with the Lawyer's Committee Fair Housing Panel.
[HUD v. Richey Marketing Group, HUDALJ 01-92-0427]
Filed with HUD
HUD charge issued 7-23-93