Civil Rights Guide

Civil Rights at the Boston Housing Authority

Boston Housing Authority is responsible under State and Federal laws to administer all aspects of its housing programs without regard to race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, familial status, veteran status, ancestry, age, genetic information or handicap. A Civil Rights Protection Plan (CRPP) has been adopted by BHA to help employees identify and investigate reported alleged civil rights violations thoroughly and without delay. Copies of the CRPP are available at all BHA offices. 

For assistance or additional information, please call the Office of Civil Rights at (617) 988-4383.  TTY Phone: (800) 545-1833 ext. 420.

Civil Rights Hotline

The non-emergency 24-Hour Hotline for reporting civil rights incidents is (617) 695-3531.

Zero Tolerance Policy

There is a Zero Tolerance Policy for civil rights violations on all BHA property.  This Policy applies to all residents. Each resident is required to sign a certification agreeing to comply with the Zero Tolerance Policy.

If any member of the resident’s household, guest, or any other person under the resident’s control is deemed to have violated the civil rights of any person while on BHA property; the resident’s entire household is subject to eviction. Civil rights violations break the terms of the Public Housing Lease. 

What kinds of actions may be Civil Rights violations?

An action may be a civil rights violation when bias or discrimination appears to be a motive in what happened to you. A bias motive is hostility, or negative attitude toward, or prejudice against, any group or individual due to race or color, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status or composition, religion, disability or handicap, genetic information, age or status as a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The first step is to identify a civil rights violation by looking for “bias indicators” present during the incident. Bias indictors are certain facts and circumstances, combined with particular language or behavior that suggest a potential civil rights violation has occurred.  Examples of bias indicators include

  • Racial, ethnic, gender, and cultural differences between the offender and victim

  • Bias-related comments, written statements or gestures made by the offender

  • Bias-related drawings, markings, symbols, and graffiti

  • Objects or items that represent the work of organized hate groups left at the scene of the incident

  • Victim or witnesses perceive that the incident was motivated by bias

Reporting a Civil Rights Violation

If you think your civil rights have been violated on BHA property, you should take the following steps

  • If you are in immediate physical danger, there is property damage or personal injury call 911. Then notify your management office. 

  • If there is no immediate threat, you should promptly notify your management office or the Office of Civil Rights at (617) 988-4383.  TTY Phone: (800) 545-1833 ext. 420.

  • You may also call BHA's  24-Hour Civil Rights Hotline at 617-695-3531 or the BHA Police at 617-423-1212.


What happens after I make a complaint?

BHA will complete a Civil Rights Administrative Report Form (CRARF) with you.  The Office of Civil Rights will conduct an administrative inquiry and BHA Police may conduct a criminal investigation. The Office of Civil Rights will provide you with a copy of the results of the investigation.

When the offender is identified, BHA will initiate appropriate civil action against their household. A private conference is required in all cases. In cases where the offender is not a resident, BHA may request that the Boston or BHA Police issue a No Trespass Notice against the individual(s) to prevent them from entering BHA property.

You will be kept informed of the status of the investigation, but if at any time you have questions, you should call the Office of Civil Rights at (617) 988-4383.  TTY Phone: (800) 545-1833 ext. 420.

Civil Rights Transfer Requests

When you complete a CRARF, you have the right to request an Emergency Transfer.  The form is available at your management office. BHA’s Transfer Review Committee will review and issue a written decision based on your request. As part of the investigation, the Office of Civil Rights will issue a report and recommendation to the transfer review committee. 

For more information on the transfer process, please see the BHA Transfer Information Guide. To check on the status of your transfer request, you may call the Transfer Process Coordinator at (617) 988-4545. TTY: (800) 545-1833 ext. 420.

BHA Civil Rights Mediation Program

Mediation is a process that allows parties in a civil rights dispute to sit with a mediator to settle the dispute before it evolves into a larger legal case.  Mediation is confidential. Nothing that happens during the session will be reported to anyone; only the Agreement is “public information.”

Mediation is a voluntary process. All parties must be willing to participate. If you decide that you would rather have someone else decide the outcome of your case, you have the right to leave at any time.

Other Remedies

You also have the right to file an administrative complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) or with the New England Office of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)

Important Addresses and Telephone Numbers

BHA Police: 
129 Amory Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02119
(617) 423-1212 (24 Hours)

Boston Police Department: 24-Hour Emergency Dial 9-1-1
Civil Rights Unit (formerly the Community Disorders Unit)
20 Vine Street
Charlestown, MA 02120
(617) 343-4527 (24 Hours)

BHA Civil Rights Hotline: (617) 695-3531 (24 Hours)

BHA Office of Civil Rights
52 Chauncy Street
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 988-4383
Fax: (617) 988-4313
TTY: (800) 545-1833 ext. 420

BHA Transfer Process Coordinator: 617-988-4545

United States Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
Fair Housing Hub
Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Federal Bldg.
10 Causeway Street, Room 321
Boston, MA 02222
(617) 994-8200
TTY: (617) 565-5453

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)
Room 601
1 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
TTY: (617) 994-9196

Architectural Access Board
Room 1310
1 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
Voice/TTY: (617) 727-0660
(for accessibility issues)

Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD)
Room 1804
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02202
(617) 727-7765

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