The Massachusetts Fair Housing Center assists victims of housing discrimination and promotes equal housing throughout Western Massachusetts.
Ernestine is one of the many individuals MFHC has helped this year. Ernestine is an 81-year-old resident of Springfield, Massachusetts, who is Deaf. Until very recently her federally-funded landlord failed to provide her with a way to communicate issues that arise in any tenancy. She was unable to participate in regularly scheduled building meetings or complete the recertification process. As a result of this unlawful failure to offer communications access to the information, services, and programs that are available to other tenants, Ernestine has been unfairly isolated and neglected. She vividly remembers the afternoon the tornado struck the South End on June 1, 2011. Like many others living in the building, she was very frightened. But her fears were amplified because she lacked the information she needed to keep herself safe.
To make sure this does not happen again, Ernestine and MFHC are advocating for her right to access the same information and benefits enjoyed by hearing tenants. Ernestine’s case has already resulted in new housing policies that will protect other residents with hearing impairments, and provide them with greater communications access in housing.
As the only fair housing center serving Western and parts of Central Massachusetts, MFHC provides critically needed services, including educating the public about fair housing, accepting and investigating complaints of housing discrimination, and offering free legal services to victims of housing discrimination. Our legal advocacy provides disabled tenants with equal access to housing, prevents homelessness, creates lead-safe housing for children, and protects the housing rights of victims of domestic violence and victims of hate crimes. As part of our outreach efforts, each year MFHC co-sponsors a free Fair Housing and Civil Rights conference, which is the only one of its kind in New England. MFHC also helps to build inclusive communities through our new Housing Mobility Support program, by offering counseling and support to Section 8 recipients who are interested in moving to higher opportunity neighborhoods.
Thank you for visiting our Giving Tuesday page and learning more about our programs. Our day-to-day work shows the direct connection between housing rights and human rights. We provide access to justice and safety for vulnerable individuals, like Ernestine. Although we work closely with our community and government partners to maximize our capacity, our funding has been cut and has not kept pace with the high demand for our services. If you believe that housing is a fundamental human need that should be available to everyone on an equal basis, please consider making a gift to MFHC today.
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