A new $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will allow Suffolk University Law School to expand its fight against housing discrimination, in part through the creation of new online courses.
The additional grant funding for Suffolk Law’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program will bring total HUD support for the program to $1.9 million.
“Ending housing discrimination is at the core of HUD’s mission, and it takes dedicated people on the ground to address it; Suffolk University Law School has been a tremendous partner in this effort,” said Susan Forward, director, Region 1 Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
Since its launch in 2012, Suffolk’s program has provided important clinical experience to Suffolk Law students and trained more than 150 fair housing testers, who pose as potential renters. Those testers have conducted over 130 housing discrimination tests. The program has demonstrated in significant numbers that testers with a visible disability; those who introduced themselves as having young children; or who mentioned their public assistance housing voucher are less likely to be shown available rental properties.
“These resources offer a remarkable opportunity for students to gain practical experience through hands-on fair housing work while providing a valuable service to our community,” said Clinical Professor of Law William Berman, who directs the program.
The HUD grants to be distributed over the next three years will fund:
- Testing and enforcement activities
- A supervisor to work with students on fair housing cases in the law school’s Accelerator-to-Practice Program, which prepares students to form sustainable practices that serve average-income clients
- Design of a hybrid or online course for housing providers
- Design of an online fair housing course for students
Suffolk will be continuing its partnership with the city of Boston on a range of fair-housing-related projects and studies of issues that include discrimination against families due to the presence of lead paint, online discriminatory advertising and the treatment of transgender individuals in the rental market.
“For those who may think of housing discrimination as a problem of a different era, the facts on the ground tell us that’s not so. These grants will allow us to strengthen our role as a vibrant center for diverse fair housing activities while allowing our students to play a productive role in eliminating housing discrimination,” said Law School Dean Camille Nelson.
The Law School also will host a fair housing conference in spring 2015, with HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Gustavo Velasquez as the keynote speaker.