11 Apr MBHP and City of Medford bring fair housing awareness to community
The six-year partnership has trained more than 500 people on housing and human rights
This year marks the 46th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Each April, which has been designated as Fair Housing month, the topic gets a lot of attention. But for Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership and the City of Medford’s Office of Human Diversity, fair housing is not just something to talk about one month out of the year, it’s something that needs constant reinforcement.
For the past six years, MBHP and the City of Medford have worked together to offer trainings intended to educate government employees, property owners, residents, and other community members about human rights in relation to housing issues. The partnership is an effort to bring greater awareness and understanding of both state and federal fair housing laws and regulations.
“Fair housing regulations are always changing, it’s important to stay on top of everything,” said McLeod, diversity director at the City of Medford. “We need someone who is an expert on the subject. If I call MBHP, I get that expertise.”
The partnership started in 2008 when McLeod attended a presentation on inclusive communities led by Barbara Chandler, the senior advisor on civil rights and fair housing at MBHP. Afterward, she approached Chandler about setting up another training hosted by the City of Medford. That first training, which covered the civil rights protections for people with disabilities, was a success, and the partnership blossomed from there.
“The partnership with the City of Medford allows us to get in front of a large range of people, not just in the human rights field,” said Chandler. “It’s a very effective way to make more people knowledgeable about these issues.”
The trainings take place in Medford but are promoted to the North Suburban Consortium area, which also includes Malden, Arlington, Chelsea, Everett, Revere, Melrose and Winthrop, as well as statewide to members of the Massachusetts Association of Human Rights and Relations Commissions. Some trainings have even attracted an international audience, such as when visiting dignitaries from Pakistan participated in a training on accessibility for persons with disabilities.
McLeod says the trainings offer people a “safe zone” where they can ask hot button questions without fear of backlash. She recalled a training on fair housing for small property owners, which gave landlords a chance to ask questions about issues such as deleading and discrimination in advertising. “People may think they know the law,” said McLeod, “But it’s important that they know what the real facts are.”
Mayor Michael J. McGlynn explained how important the partnership has been, saying, “We are lucky to have MBHP in Medford as an ally and a training tool. The Medford Community only benefits from the information, trainings, and overall knowledge that they provide to us all. MBHP is a respected friend, supporter, and collaborator for our city.”
“I really admire the dedication the City of Medford has to human rights in general,” said Chandler. “This partnership is an excellent example of how to take a proactive approach for fair housing. Rather than waiting for violations to crop up and reacting to them, we are providing civil rights information in a pragmatic way so that people can move forward.”
About City of Medford Office of Human Diversity
The City of Medford’s Office of Human Diversity and Compliance works to ensure equal opportunity in all aspects of Medford life. It addresses fair housing, human rights, and disability issues. The Diversity Director collaborates with police, schools, businesses, and residents in a proactive way to create a positive atmosphere throughout the community.
About Metropolitan Housing Partnership
Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership is a nonprofit housing agency that helps more than 16,000 families in need of safe, affordable shelter. MBHP provides rental assistance to more than 8,600 households and works with more than 4,300 property owners. Founded on the belief that everyone deserves a place to call home, MBHP’s mission is to ensure that individuals and families in the greater Boston region have choice and mobility in finding and retaining decent, affordable housing. The state’s largest regional provider of rental housing voucher assistance, MBHP serves homeless, elderly, disabled, and low- and moderate-income individuals and families in Boston and 29 surrounding communities. MBHP works collaboratively with a board array of service providers and neighborhood-based organizations in order to offer programs and initiatives designed to encourage housing stability, increase economic self-sufficiency, and enhance quality of the lives of those served. For more information, contact MBHP Communications Manager Lisa Hacker at (617) 425-6691, or visit www.mbhp.org.