For Immediate Release - August 06, 2015

Commissioner Richie Moderates Panel of Experts at CHAPA's Fair Housing Breakfast Forum at MassHousing

On the morning of August 6, 2015, Executive Director of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), Brenda Clement, welcomed a conference room full of attendees to the Fair Housing Breakfast Forum, hosted by CHAPA, held at the MassHousing’s headquarters at One Beacon Street, Boston.

Clement introduced Charlotte Golar Richie, a Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commissioner Against Discrimination, to moderate a panel of experts to discuss the impact of two 2015 Fair Housing milestones: The July 25, 2015, Supreme Court Decision, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project (TDHCA v. ICP), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Final Rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.

The panel consisted of Fair Housing and civil rights champions from the greater Boston community, including: Deborah Goddard, Director of Polic y and program Development at MassHousing; David Harris, Managing Director of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice; Henry Korman, Partner at Klein Hornig LLP; and Joe Kriesberg, President of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations.

The panel opened by contextualizing the relationships between segregation, poverty, multifamily housing and households of color, to better understand the impact that the Supreme Court decision and HUD final rule will have on the work of Fair Housing advocates. Commissioner Richie then proceeded to moderate a lively discussion of the two recent developments.

At the center of both the Supreme Court’s and the Administration’s actions is the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which prohibits discrimination in housing-related activities and requires, through a duty to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH), meaningful actions to be taken to overcome the legacy of segregation, unequal treatment, and historic lack of access to opportunity in housing.

The Supreme Court decision found that “disparate impact” claims are permitted under the Fair Housing Act, a position long taken by HUD, and an important tool in the fight against systemic housing discrimination nationwide. Then, two weeks later, on July 8, 2015, HUD announced its final rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing establishing basic parameters to help guide public sector housing and community development planning and investment decisions in being better informed about fair housing concerns and consequently help program participants to be better positioned to fulfill their obligation to affirmatively further fair housing.