Boston Housing Authority

Policies > Civil Rights Protection Plan: Response Procedures

Civil Rights Protection Plan

Chapter 7:Response Procedures

Civil rights violations will be reviewed by both the BHA and the Boston Police Department and in some cases by the Office of the Attorney General. The BHA will conduct an Administrative Inquiry whenever a report is filed, and will initiate appropriate civil action against the offender. The Boston Police Department will conduct a criminal investigation and, where appropriate, will forward its findings to the Office of the District Attorney for criminal prosecution and Office of the Attorney General for civil injunctive relief.
 
The BHA’s response to an incident begins when the incident is initially reported to, or observed by, an employee.
 
The Incident Must be Reported to the Boston Police Department
           
1.1       When a tenant alleges he/she has been victimized by a civil rights incident, the Housing Manager or other BHA employee shall report the incident to the BHA Police  if the tenant has not already done so.  When a BHA employee observes a civil rights incident he/she must immediately report the incident to 911 and/or the BHA Police.
 
1.2       When a BHA employee observes a civil rights incident or any graffiti, writing or drawings containing bias indicators on BHA property, he/she must immediately report the incident to their supervisor or the Housing Manager of the development where the observation was made.  Supervisors must immediately report the incident to the Housing Manager of the appropriate development or the Office of Civil Rights.
 
1.3       When a Housing Manager or the Office of Civil Rights is notified of a civil rights incident by a BHA employee, all procedures contained herein must be followed, beginning with notification to the Boston Police Department and/or the BHA police.
 
Completing the Administrative Report Form
 
Incidents Reported at the Development Management Office
 
2.1       When a tenant notifies the Development Management Office alleging they have been the victim of a civil rights incident, the Housing Manager or Assistant Manager (or if unavailable any other administrative staff person in the development office) must complete the BHA Administrative Report Form.
 
If the tenant reports the incident by telephone, the employee taking the call should make an effort to schedule a personal interview to complete the Administrative Report Form. This meeting may take place at the development management office or at another mutually convenient location. If the reporter refuses to identify him/herself, the employee must get as much information from the caller as possible in order to complete the Administrative Report Form.
 
Incidents Reported Anonymously
 
2.2       When a tenant notifies the Development Management Office alleging he/she has been the victim of a civil rights incident and refuses to identify him/herself, the employee must encourage the tenant to provide information through which the Office of Civil Rights may contact them.
 
Using the information provided, complete the Administrative Report Form to the extent possible, indicating on the form that the report was made anonymously.
 
Advise the tenant that he/she should schedule an interview with the Development Manager or Office of Civil Rights so as to assist the investigation of the incident. Indicate to the reporter that his/her name will remain confidential to the extent possible.
 
2.3    In all cases the Housing Manager or Assistant Manager (or if unavailable any other administrative staff person in the development office) must:

  • Identify emergency situations and get immediate police assistance;
  • Complete the BHA Administrative Report Form and provide a copy to the tenant reporting the incident.
  • Inform the tenant of his/her right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fair Housing Enforcement Center, under the Fair Housing Act;
  • Inform the tenant of the procedures that the BHA will follow during its administrative inquiry into the incident;
  • Inform the tenant of the possible relief available if the BHA administrative inquiry or any Police Department investigation uncovers evidence of a civil rights violation, i.e. obtaining a no trespass order or temporary restraining order against the offender, emergency transfer to protect the tenant, eviction of the offender, etc.
  • When possible, assist the tenant in identifying the offender in those cases where the tenant cannot identify the offender by name.
  • Give the tenant a fact sheet informing the tenant of his/her rights, outlining the CRPP's procedures, describing possible relief that is available, and listing the telephone numbers to file a complaint with HUD and MCAD. 

2.4       When completing the Administrative Report Form, the following guidelines must be followed: 

  • The Administrative Report Form must be completed for each reported incident.
  • Every question on the form must be answered to the extent possible.
  • Only the Housing Manager or Assistant Manager or if unavailable any other administrative staff person in the development office, should complete the form.
  • Call the BHA Office of Civil Rights to notify the Department of the incident.
  • Immediately send the Report to the BHA Office of Civil Rights and Public Safety Department and the Regional Property Manager.  The Report should be faxed and must be sent by interoffice mail within twenty-four (24) hours of taking the report. Do not wait for additional documentation or information from the Reporter.
  • Include your account of the incident or any background information in the “manager comment” section, as this is critical to a thorough investigation.
  • Place a copy of the Report in the tenant file and provide the Reporter with a copy.
  • When the alleged offender is identified and is a BHA resident, or guest of a resident, a private conference with the head of household must be scheduled within three (3) days, but in no case more than seven (7) days. The private conference must be held no later than twelve (12) days after the incident is reported.
  • Encourage the resident to report all future incidents to the Boston Police Department and the Management Office.
  • Advise the resident of their right to apply for a transfer. 

Incidents Reported  Directly to the Office of Civil Rights
 
2.5       When a tenant orally or in writing reports an incident to the Office of Civil Rights instead of the Development Office, the Office of Civil Rights must follow the same guidelines as stated above with the following exceptions; 

  • The Incident Report must be forwarded to the Development Office and Regional Property Manager within twenty-four (24) hours.
  • The Report  must be completed by an Office of Civil Rights staff person.
  • The individual completing the report should consult the Housing Manager to incorporate their analysis of the incident. 

Making a Log Book Entry
 
3.0       Each Housing Development Office must maintain a log book recording each reported civil rights incident. This log will allow Housing Managers to track the number and type of incidents in their developments, and allow them to cross reference information with the Office of Civil Rights.
 
3.1       A central log book will be maintained by the Office of Civil Rights. This log will record all reported bias incidents on BHA property.
 
3.2       When making a log book entry at the Development Office or Office of Civil Rights, the following guidelines must be followed:
 
The incident must be recorded at the same time the Administrative Report is taken, and;
The log book must contain the following information:
 
File number - This number is printed on the upper right hand corner of the Administrative Report Form,
Name, address and telephone number of the Reporter,
Description of the nature of the complaint - brief description of incident,
Name and address of the offender(s) if known - if you obtain this information at a later time, the entry should be supplemented.
 
Initiating a Private Conference
 
4.0       When the offender(s) can be identified and is a BHA resident, a member of a resident’s household, a guest or other person under the resident’s control, the Housing Manager must schedule a Private Conference with the head of  household within three (3) days, but in no case more than seven (7) days. The private conference must be held no later than twelve (12) days after the incident is reported. This is intended to be a formal private conference and not an informal private conference.  These time frames begin when the development receives notice of the offender(s) identity.
 
4.1       When the offender is alleged to be a household member listed on the lease, the Housing Manager may request that the offender also attend the Private Conference.
 
4.2       The following guidelines should be followed when initiating the Private Conference.
 
A Private Conference must be held in all cases involving a bias indicator and where the offender has been identified.

  • Only the Manager or Assistant Manager should conduct the private conference.
  • Housing Managers are strongly encouraged to have a BHA Civil Rights or BHA Public Safety Department staff person attend the private conference if necessary and appropriate.
  • At the request of the Reporter, the Housing Manager, shall request an employee from the Office of Civil Rights or Public Safety Department, or an officer from the Boston Police Department Community Disorders Unit (CDU)[1] to attend the private conference.
  • When appropriate, the Housing Manager may request that the Reporter also attend the private conference.
  • When the offender cannot initially be identified, but as a result of an Administrative Inquiry or police investigation the Housing Manager learns of the identity of the offender, and said person is a BHA resident, or the guest of a resident, a private conference with the head of household must be scheduled within three (3) days, but in no case more than seven (7) days later. The private conference must be held no later than twelve (12) days of the Housing Manager learning of the identity of said person.
  • After the Private Conference, the Housing Manager must send a memorandum to the Office of Civil Rights and to the Regional Property Manager  summarizing who was present and what occurred at the Private Conference.
  • Depending upon the nature of the circumstances and severity of the incident, the Housing Manager may initiate eviction proceedings by serving the head of the household of the offender with a Notice To Quit and Notice of Termination after the Private Conference. 

Commencing an Eviction Action
 
Violation of the Lease Agreement
 
5.0       Section 9(B)(8)  of the BHA lease states that the lease may be terminated and eviction proceedings commenced by the BHA due to the:
 
“Commission by Resident, a member of  Resident’s household, a guest or other person under Resident’s control of: a. Any criminal or other activity which threatens the health or safety of other residents or BHA employees, or which threatens their rights to peaceful quiet enjoyment of public housing premises.”
 
This clause of the lease should be strictly enforced by all management personnel.
 
Commission of a Criminal Act is not Required
 
5.1       Even when an incident involving a bias indicator is not determined to be illegal, it may still constitute “other activity which threatens the health or safety of other residents or BHA employees, or which threatens their rights to peaceful quiet enjoyment of public housing premises,” and therefore meets the threshold for initiating a cause eviction.
 
5.2       As soon as a tenant reports an incident to the Management Office, the Housing Manager may commence eviction proceedings by serving the Notice To Quit after the Private Conference, based upon a violation of this lease provision.
 
Deciding Whether to Initiate an Eviction
 
5.3       The Housing Manager must decide whether to proceed with an eviction action and must consult with the attorney assigned to their development in making this decision. He/she is also encouraged to consult with the Office of Civil Rights and his/her Regional Property Manager. The decision to evict can be made at any time after the private conference.
 
5.4       It is not a prerequisite to serving the Notice To Quit and Notice of Termination to wait for the Office of Civil Rights to complete its Administrative Inquiry and/or the Boston Police Department to complete its investigation, or for the offender to be arrested and/or convicted in criminal court.
           
5.5       In determining whether or not to continue with eviction proceedings after the Private Conference, Housing Managers should evaluate the following criteria:
 
(a)               Whether the tenant, household member, or guest committed the act with a bias intent or motive.
(b)               Whether the tenant, household member or guest, has committed prior acts of misconduct.
(c)               Whether there is insufficient evidence supporting defenses (i.e. alibi, mistaken identity, self defense, etc.).
(d)               Whether reliable and credible witnesses are available to show that the incident was committed by the tenant, household member or their guest.
(e)               Whether there is other available, reliable and credible evidence to show the incident was committed by the tenant, household member or guest.
(f)                 Whether there are any special hardships or mitigating circumstances.
(g)               The seriousness and circumstances of the incident.
 
Administrative Inquiry by BHA Office of Civil Rights
 
6.0       Upon receipt of the Administrative Report Form, the BHA Office of Civil Rights must;
A) Conduct an Administrative Inquiry of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, and prepare a report detailing the incident including any recommendations.
 
B)  Request a copy of the BPD Police report for each bias related incident and if available, keep a copy of the police report with the CRARF in the administrative inquiry case file.
 
6.1       The following factors should be considered when conducting the Administrative Inquiry:
 
(a)               The identity of the offender(s).
(b)               The nature of the incident.
(c)               Whether the offender(s) acted with a bias motive or intent.
(d)               Whether the offender has committed prior acts of misconduct.
(e)               Whether there is insufficient evidence supporting defenses (i.e., alibi, mistaken identity, self defense, etc.)
(f)                 Whether reliable and credible witnesses are available to support the contention that the act was committed by the tenant or a member of their household.
(g)               Whether there is other available, reliable and credible evidence to support the contention  that the act was committed by the tenant or a member of the their household.
(h)               Whether there are any special hardships or mitigating circumstances.
(i)                 Whether the household member who committed the act is of a young age.
(j)                  Whether the tenant took steps to prevent the household member’s misconduct.
(k)               Whether the action of the tenant or other members of the household was taken in response to another incident.
(l)                  The seriousness and circumstances of the incident.
(m)             Whether it is certain that the offender/household member will not return.
 
6.2       When appropriate, the Office of Civil Rights will consult with the Community Disorders Unit (CDU) of the Boston Police Department during the inquiry. In addition, the Office of Civil Rights will act as a liaison between Housing Managers and the CDU, advising them of  progress in the investigation and whether the CDU confirms the violation of a criminal statute. The Administrator, Deputy Administrator, Director of Property Management Regional Property Manager, Housing Manager and BHA Police should be kept informed of all developments in the case.
 
6.3       The Administrative Inquiry must be completed within fourteen (14) days of receiving the Incident Report Form from the Housing Manager.  When an incident is reported directly to the Office of Civil Rights, the Administrative Inquiry must be concluded within fourteen (14) days of taking the report.   For good cause shown, the Office of Civil Rights may request an additional fourteen (14) days to complete the Administrative Inquiry from the BHA Office of Legal Counsel .  The Director of Civil Rights or his/her designee must update the Reporter in writing on the status of the Inquiry every fourteen (14) days.
 
6.4       Within two business days of its conclusion, a copy of the Administrative Inquiry shall be sent to the appropriate Housing Manager, Regional Property Manager, and the BHA attorney assigned to the development.  In all cases where a transfer has been requested, the report must also be sent to the Director of Occupancy within two business days of the Administrative Inquiry's conclusion.