Four local housing authorities settle discrimination complaints

The complaints alleged that the housing authorities discriminated against Latino applicants

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Fair Housing Center  reports that public housing authorities in Northampton, West Springfield, Greenfield and Westfield have settled complaints in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Federal Fair Housing Act. The complaints were filed with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2016, and were based on a series of fair housing tests showing preferential treatment of English-speaking white applicants when compared to Spanish-speaking Latino applicants.

The complaints alleged that the housing authorities discriminated against Latino applicants by failing to offer applications in Spanish and, in some cases, referring Latino applicants to seek language services from another agency when they needed assistance.

As part of the settlement agreement, the four housing authorities will provide notice of the availability of interpreters; provide applications in Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Khmer and Portuguese; create or maintain a Language Access Plan that is available to the public at the housing authority and on-line; mandate staff training and the appointment of a Language Access Coordinator.

According to the MFHC, western Massachusetts has the highest rate in the nation of housing segregation between Latinos and white applicants.