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Fair Housing Resources

Outdated: being updated

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) has developed a Fair Housing Toolkit as part of the Sustainable Communities Program. MAPC was advised by the Fair Housing Caucus of the Metro Boston Consortium for Sustainable Communities The Toolkit details strategies to promote inclusive communities and advance regional equity.  In addition to the resources listed below, each section of the Toolkit contains links to documents and websites that provide information about federal and state fair housing and anti-discrimination laws and resources on fair housing access, advocacy, and enforcement.

Ways MAPC Can Help

MAPC provides data, research, resources guides and technical assistance regarding housing needs at the local and regional levels. In addition, members and member organizations of the MAPC Fair Housing Caucus provide fair housing training and technical assistance for a wide variety of audiences.

  • Join the Fair Housing Caucus of the Metro Boston Consortium for Sustainable Communities. Read about Consortium membership.
  • View the Housing page for information about the housing services provided by the MAPC Smart Growth Department.
  • Explore the Fair Housing Toolkit for resources for promoting fair housing.
  • Attend training on fair housing strategies to promote inclusive communities.
  • For more information, contact Jennifer Erickson, liaison to the Fair Housing Caucus, at jerickson@mapc.org.

Resources on Fair Housing Advocacy and Technical Assistance

Access Living: Access Living is a change agent committed to inclusion, independent living and empowerment for people with disabilities, and the disability community, in Chicago and around the country.

Bazelon Mental Health Law Center: Bazelon Mental Health Law Center offers resources on fair housing cases affecting persons with disabilities.

Center for Housing Policy: The Center for Housing Policy has published a literature reviewBuilding Support for Affordable Homeownership and Rental Choices:  A Summary of Research Findings on Public Opinion and Messaging on Affordable Housing. The review examines how to effectively frame issues and communicate with policymakers and the public.

CHAPA Consultant Directory: CHAPA’s directory is searchable by key word and provides contact information for qualified consultants with expertise in fair housing, affirmative marketing, accessible design and construction, needs assessments, or demographic analysis.

Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST: Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST provides information, materials, and technical assistance to all relevant stakeholders about the accessibility design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act as amended in 1988, as well as a toll-free information line for technical assistance. Call the Design and Construction Resource Center at (888) 341-778 (V/TTY).

Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston (FHCGB): The FHCGB provides a host of fair housing services: testing, case advocacy, training, community outreach, policy advocacy, and research.

Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania: The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania’s publication Addressing Community Opposition to Affordable Housing Development: A Fair Housing Toolkit presents affordable housing developers with workable strategies and tactics relating to affordable housing development and fair housing.

Massachusetts Access Housing Registry: The Massachusetts Access Housing Registry helps people find accessible and barrier free housing listings.  The site offers flexible search functions along with information about subsidized housing and accessible housing. Organizations and individuals can register to list available properties.

Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB): Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB) develops and enforces regulations designed to make buildings accessible to, functional for and safe for use by persons with disabilities.

Massachusetts Fair Housing and Civil Rights Programs: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Fair Housing and Civil Rights Information website provides an overview of state-level fair housing activities undertaken by the Commonwealth, including Policies, Guidelines, and Resources from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)DHCD’s Affirmative Fair Housing and Civil Rights Policy reviews the legal context for fair housing, financial resources for furthering fair housing, and affirmative fair housing initiatives in Massachusetts.

MassHousing: MassHousing provides handbooks, procedures, and sample documents to assist property managers in meeting their fair housing obligations.

Mel King institute for Community Building: The Mel King institute for Community Building offers skill building and leadership training for community development professionals and volunteer leaders. The Institute serves as a clearinghouse for technical assistance and collaboration strategies.

MetroBoston DataCommon: MetroBoston DataCommon offers monthly trainings to teach users how to quickly access, analyze, and map demographic statistics.

Metro Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP): MBHP provided trainings to both tenants and property owners regarding their rights and responsibilities under the federal Fair Housing Act of 1988 and the state fair housing law, Chapter 151B. Staff members also provide technical assistance on fair housing and refer clients to other related services in Greater Boston.

National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA): NFHA’s website includes legal resources, publications, news releases and public policy changes in fair housing.

National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC): NCRC serves advocates around the country by providing training and technical assistance, research and policy analyses and other resources. 

New England ADA Center: The New England ADA Center provides information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act for municipal staff, developers, and the public through online and in person training.

US Department of Justice: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) website provides multiple resources of use, including detailed guidance on  ADA compliance for City Governments, succinct descriptions of ordinances, policies, and procedures to institutionalize human rights at the municipal level, and guidance on language access assessment and planning.

State Agencies and Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations Serving Protected Classes

Massachusetts Association for Community Action Programs (MassCAP): MassCAP is a statewide association of 24 Community Action Agencies (CAAs). CAAs provide emergency assistance to people in crisis, offer programs that fight unemployment, inadequate housing, poor nutrition, and lack of educational opportunity, and provide training in advocacy skills. Services also include weatherization assistance and homelessness prevention.

Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC): Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Community Housing Development Organizations (CHODOs) serve neighborhoods, municipalities, and regions throughout Massachusetts. Primarily developers of affordable housing, CDCs have wide ranging experience in community outreach and organizing to revitalize neighborhoods.

Massachusetts Association of Human Rights and Relations Commissions (MAHRC): MAHRC is an organization of municipal and local agencies responsible for promoting human and civil rights and harmonious relationships among diverse groups at a local level.  MAHRC promotes networking initiatives, developing educational strategies and model programs and services as a resource for new and existing human rights and relations commissions.

Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless (MCH): MCH is a network of housing advocates.  The coalition can provide information about member organizations that service local communities.  The coalition also provides direct service to the homeless.

Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH)—Statewide Interpreter/CART Referral Service: The Statewide Interpreter/CART Referral Service provides referral services for sign language, spoken English, oral, tactile and close vision interpreting for Deaf and Deaf – Blind individuals, as well as making referrals to freelance CART providers for CART provision on behalf of hard of hearing and/or late deafened individuals in a wide variety of settings such as medical, legal, mental health, employment, education and recreational situations.

Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance: The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) provides services that include food, job, cash, and domestic violence assistance, as well as emergency shelter. DTA administers benefits such as Food Stamp Benefits, Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children and Emergency Assistance.

Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services: The Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services provides detailed information on veterans housing programs. In addition, municipalities have a Veterans’ Services Officer to help individuals access needed services.

Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs: Through the statewide elder network, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (“Elder Affairs”) provides services locally via Aging Services Access Points, Councils on Aging and senior centers in communities across the Commonwealth. Services include home care and caregiver support, nutrition programs, protective services, health and wellness services, housing options, SHINE counseling (Serving the Health Information Needs of Elders), or counseling services for elders with limited English proficiency.

Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA): The MIRA Coalition works with over 130 member organizations across the state, ranging from community-based organizations to labor unions to law firms, and more. The MIRA map of member organizations will indicate organizations active in the local area and region.

Massachusetts Office on Disability: The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) is a state advocacy agency that serves people with disabilities of all ages. The Office has three main components that function to fulfill its priorities: the Government Services Program, the Client Services Program, and the Community Services Program. MOD provides technical assistance, trouble-shooting and advice on all disability related issues.

MassRelay: MassRelay is a 24/7 service enabling hearing people or people who do not use a text telephone (TTY) to communicate over regular telephone lines with people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, late deafened, or speech disabled.

Massachusetts Statewide Independent Living Council: The Massachusetts Statewide Independent Living Council is a Governor appointed Council, whose members include persons who are knowledgeable about centers for independent living and the services they provide. The goal of the Council is to ensure provision of community-based, consumer-controlled, cross-disability services in compliance with requirements of the Title VII of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and in accordance with Independent Living Philosophy.

Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts: Member organizations of the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts develop housing and provide housing related services, including hosting nine Housing Consumer Education Centers throughout the state to provide information for home seekers and property owners.

Legal Resources on Fair Housing – Massachusetts

Municipal staff and volunteers can assist individuals who have experienced discrimination to pursue their rights by referring them to case advocates at the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston or directly help them file a complaint at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. In addition, the following legal organizations may be of assistance.

Boston Fair Housing Commission: The Boston Fair Housing Commission works to eliminate discrimination and increase access to housing in Boston through investigation and enforcement, affirmative marketing, housing counseling, and interagency coordination. The BFHC also manages a computerized listing service (Metrolist) of regional housing opportunities in an effort to provide low-income households increased access to housing in 126 cities and towns of metropolitan Boston.

Cambridge Human Rights Commission: The Cambridge Human Rights Commission is a city law enforcement agency that investigates complaints of discrimination that occur in Cambridge. The Commission also aids the City of Cambridge by educating both businesses and residents, providing community outreach, and cooperating with other city, state and federal agencies.

Disability Law Center of Massachusetts: The Disability Law Center of Massachusetts provides information, referral, technical assistance and representation regarding legal rights and services for people with disabilities, including access to community services, special education, health care, disability benefits, and rights and conditions in facilities.

Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston (FHCGB): The FHCGB works to eliminate housing discrimination and promote open communities throughout the region. FHCGB offers recourse to people harmed by discrimination and educates and informs housing professionals and residents of their rights and responsibilities. FHCGB provides a host of fair housing services: testing, case advocacy, training, community outreach, policy advocacy, and research.

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders: Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) is New England’s leading legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity and expression. GLAD has a legal information line that provides information and referrals for people with discrimination issues who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, a transgender, or living with HIV/AIDS.

Greater Boston Legal Services: Greater Boston Legal Services provides critical legal assistance to low-income people in the greater Boston area, including assistance with housing, employment, health and disability, welfare, immigration, and elder and family issues.

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association: The Lawyers’ Committee is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan legal organization that provides pro bono legal representation to victims of discrimination based on race or national origin. The Committee also engages in public policy advocacy, community legal education, community economic development, and other legal services that further the cause of civil rights.

MassLegalHelp: Massachusetts legal aid programs created masslegalhelp.org to assist consumers find practical information about their legal rights. The website includes information about tenants’ rights in Massachusetts, self-help forms, sample letters, booklets, handbooks, and frequently asked questions

Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) Lawyer Referral Service: The MBA Lawyer Referral Service is a public service program dedicated to directing callers to the most appropriate resources, whether that is one of the MBA’s attorney panel members, the state attorney general’s office, a legal service agency or the MBA’s own Dial-A-Lawyer program.

Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office: The Attorney General’s Office reviews and responds to civil rights complaints alleging deprivations of, or interference with, civil rights and civil liberties.

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD): The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination is the state’s chief civil rights agency. The Commission works to eliminate discrimination in housing, lending, public accommodation, as well as employment and education, and strives to advance the civil rights of the people of the Commonwealth through law enforcement, outreach and training.

Massachusetts Law Reform Institute: The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) is a non-profit legal services organization committed to promoting social and economic justice through advocacy, education and legal action. MLRI staff work with many organizations at the local, state and national level on numerous areas of law affecting those who are low-income.