Rep. Madaro testifies on his bill to end housing discrimination

Last week Rep. Adrian Madaro testified at a Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure hearing in support of his bill to end housing discrimination in the Commonwealth. 

“Our fair housing laws work best when they’re well understood and consistently enforced,” said Madaro. “My bill would increase fair housing training for real estate brokers, streamline the process for suspending real estate brokers engaged in illegal discrimination, and add a fair housing and civil rights expert to the Board of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons.”

Madaro said a recent study by Suffolk University found that Black renters and renters with Section 8 vouchers face deep discrimination in Greater Boston. 

“This is unacceptable,” he said. “Therefore, we need to ensure real estate brokers receive periodic training on fair housing laws and principles. By gaining a better understanding of our fair housing laws, real estate brokers will be more prepared to adequately deliver their services. Additionally, we must also ensure that fair housing laws are being actively enforced and that fair housing violations are not just the cost of doing business for offending real estate brokers. By enabling qualified Fair Housing centers to directly report suspected discrimination to the Board of Real Estate Brokers, we can enhance the strength of existing fair housing laws by enhancing by enhancing the strength of existing fair housing laws.”

Madaro said the bill, if passed, can create a more robust response to the housing crisis we’re dealing with here in the Commonwealth. 

“As policymakers, we have often relied on vouchers to assist families struggling with housing affordability,” said Madaro. “Yet time and time again researchers have found that families with vouchers face discrimination in the housing market, limiting where they can go, and their ability to secure housing within a reasonable time. A failure to address discrimination against voucher holding renters jeopardizes the efficacy of one of the best tools we have available in our fight against the housing crisis.”

Madaro added that the state must increase penalties for discrimination in fair housing violations. “This way we can begin to drive a deeper cultural shift and change within the housing market by making clear that housing discrimination is unacceptable in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” he said. 

Lastly, Madaro argued that this legislation is an important step towards addressing historic and systemic segregation and racism within our housing market.

“Black renters in the Greater Boston area are more likely to experience discrimination by real estate brokers, as demonstrated by recent studies conducted by the Suffolk University housing discrimination Testing Center,” said Madaro. “As we witnessed throughout the pandemic, our black and brown neighbors in historically redlined communities, experienced greater rates of COVID-19 and more serious forms of the illness. From this observation, we can see how housing discrimination and segregation have negative, long lasting consequences on the health and wellness of communities. It’s imperative that we pass this legislation so that all families, regardless of their background, composition, or source of income can have fair and equal access to housing.”

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