Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing… not just fair housing, in theory


On Wed April 12th 2017 Homes for Families in partnership with Boston Tenant Coalition, hosted a meeting between The City of Boston and the Homes for Families’ Consumer Advocacy Team (CAT).

The purpose of the meeting was to provide space for honest dialogue related to the barriers, challenges and issues around fair affordable housing and discrimination being faced by Boston residents, especially those with extremely low, low and moderate incomes. The goal was to inform and guide the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) process for the best possible outcome for all Boston residents.

The Fair Housing Act was signed into law in April of 1968. Read more here.

The HUD rule to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing was published in July of 2015. Click here for more information.

From the City we were joined by Janine Anzalota, Executive Director Office of Fair Housing and Equity, Boston Fair Housing Commission and Robert C. Gehret, Jr., Deputy Director, Policy Development & Research Division, City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development.

Representing the family voice and many of the Boston communities, we were joined by the Consumer Advocacy Team. CAT is a group of families who have experienced, housing instability, homelessness and displacement. Members of the CAT group dedicate their time to systems change and improvement. They bring a unique lens of lived experience and continuous training on policy and organizing which allows for effective multifaceted family driven advocacy.

The conversation was both rich and engaging and the first of many upcoming opportunities for residents to share challenges, ideas and solutions to some of the complex issues that families and individuals in the Boston housing market are being faced with. Some of the key themes or hot topics of discussion at the meeting:

  • Investments in Boston communities often go hand in hand with gentrification and displacement
  • Landlords who have the option to rent to millennials (without children) don’t want to rent to families
  • Landlords unwillingness to accept vouchers, some are finding creative ways to discriminate against sec 8 voucher holders in order to free up property for “professional 20-30 year olds”
  • The trade off of renting an apartment in a high cost area (at an affordable rate) is usually accepting substandard living conditions
  • Racial segregation having to do with who can afford to live where & landlords ability to affect the culture of neighborhoods (knowingly or unknowingly)

In the coming weeks there will be a survey coming out aimed at Boston residents with the purpose of understanding their experience, needs and challenges as a resident of the City. There will also be an Open meeting with the City on April 25th with the same purpose of collecting valuable input from community members in order to inform the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing process.

Both Janine and Bob displayed a passion to understand and improve the experience of each and every Boston resident and asked some extremely thoughtful questions. We want to thank them for making the time to come out and join us in our efforts to work toward better more accessible fair affordable housing for ALL.

A big thanks to our CAT group for their dedication to advocacy and systems change and improvement.

A big thanks to Kathy Brown from BTC who works endlessly- selflessly to ensure safe affordable housing for Boston resident’s day in and day out!!!

This is just the beginning so please keep an eye out and participate if/when you can in any open meetings/hearing/ surveying having to do with Boston’s AFFH initiative . To learn more about AFFH, check out the following:

HUD’s AFFH Page https://www.huduser.gov/portal/affht_pt.html

A 2015 article announcing the ruling from the Obama administration from the Washington Post

A 2017 article discussing Fair Housing under the Trump Administration from the Atlantic

Learn more and be heard!

-Nilaya, Director of Leadership and Community Building

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