For Immediate Release - March 09, 2012

Boston Property Owner Sued for Housing Discrimination

AG’s Office Alleges Landlord Refused Housing to Recipient of Federal Housing Assistance

BOSTON – The owner of a Dorchester apartment building who refused to rent a unit to a recipient of federal housing assistance has been sued for violating the state anti-discrimination law, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

“We are facing critical affordable housing needs in the Commonwealth and the strain on those needing rental or transitional housing assistance is particularly great,” AG Coakley said.  “Realtors, brokers and landlords in Massachusetts must understand that discrimination against those holding housing assistance subsidies is illegal and we will seek to hold accountable those who break the law.”

The complaint was filed in Suffolk Superior Court on March 2 against Bragel Associates, the Bridgeview Realty Trust and George and Shirley Smith Bragel who own and manage eleven rental properties in the Boston area. It alleges that Shirley Smith Bragel told the prospective tenant that she would not rent the apartment because the prospective tenant had a housing voucher. Under state law, it is illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because they receive public assistance.

The AG’s Office filed the complaint after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) found probable cause that the defendants had unlawfully discriminated against the prospective tenant. The AG’s Office is responsible for enforcing fair housing laws and prosecuting housing discrimination cases following probable cause determinations from the MCAD.

The AG’s Office is seeking to ensure that the defendants refrain from any future discrimination, damages for the victim and civil penalties. This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Gabrielle Viator of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division, with assistance from Kristen Metzger of the Investigations Division.

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