A new $300,000 yearly grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will allow Suffolk University Law School to continue its fight against housing discrimination, which has uncovered rental bias based on race, gender identity, disability, family status and other protected classes.
The additional three-year grant funding for Suffolk Law’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program will bring total HUD support for the program to $3 million.
Since its launch in 2012, Suffolk’s program has provided important clinical experience to Suffolk Law students and trained more than 325 fair housing testers, who pose as potential renters. Those testers have conducted over 350 housing discrimination tests. The program has demonstrated in significant numbers that testers fitting certain profiles are less likely to be shown available rental properties, given false information or quoted different rental prices. Uncovering this information is important because in most instances potential renters would have no way of knowing that they are being lied to or otherwise treated differently.
“The Housing Discrimination Testing Program offers a valuable resource for community justice while offering Suffolk Law students practical experience through hands-on fair housing work,” said Clinical Professor of Law William Berman, who directs the program.
The testing program’s efforts have led to over $150,000 in damages for victims of housing discrimination and publication of a study on the level of discrimination that trans and gender-non-conforming rental seekers experience in the Metro Boston housing market.
The HUD grants to be distributed over the next three years will fund testing of the rental market, fair housing education and outreach activities in the community, and legal representation of people with housing discrimination claims by Suffolk Law students in the Accelerator-to-Practice Program.
“Since its founding, Suffolk University Law School has made significant contributions to the community, and the Housing Discrimination Testing Program is a remarkable and impactful example of how we’ve stayed true to our mission,” said Law School Dean Andrew Perlman. “Experiential learning is central to a Suffolk Law education, and students engaged in this program, our clinics and related curricular and extra-curricular opportunities graduate with the skills they need to succeed.”
Suffolk will continue its partnership with the city of Boston on a range of fair-housing-related projects and studies.