Qualified Renters Need Not Apply

WED, SEP 16, 2020

This talk explores race and voucher discrimination in the Metro Boston housing market. Members of the Suffolk University Law School Housing Discrimination Testing Program—William Berman, Jamie Langowski, Catherine LaRaia, James Matthews, and Ana Vaquerano—will discuss their recent groundbreaking study that uncovered high levels of race and voucher-based housing discrimination in the Boston area and how that research relates to the struggle for racial equity and fair housing.

Soni Gupta, Director of Neighborhoods and Housing with The Boston Foundation is the moderator.

Image: Pexels.com

+ BIO: Ana Vaquerano

Ana Vaquerano, a native of El Salvador, is a long-term resident of Chelsea who has worked tirelessly for the community for over twenty-five years. Ana has worn many hats in her work with Suffolk University Law School; program coordinator, administrative assistant, secretary-receptionist, paralegal and intake worker among other responsibilities. She has been honored for her outstanding client service by the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and also by many other organizations. Her fluent Spanish has made her an invaluable resource for clinical students, colleagues and clients. And she has volunteered for several years to accompany undergraduate students in a program of work and learning in a rural village in El Salvador. Her dedication to public service is an example and an inspiration to her colleagues and the students at Suffolk University Law School. Ana is married and has three children and two grandchildren.

+ BIO: James Matthews

James Matthews is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School. He currently works as a Clinical Fellow in Suffolk Law’s Accelerator Practice where he supervises law students in eviction and other landlord-tenant matters. Attorney Matthews has over ten years of experience working with tenants on eviction cases. Prior to law school, he was employed by the North Shore Community Action Programs (NSCAP) in Peabody, MA, where he worked with the agency’s staff attorney to assist low-income tenants facing eviction, discrimination, and termination or denial of subsidized housing. At NSCAP, he also worked in conjunction with Neighborhood Legal Services to operate a Lawyer for a Day Program in the Lynn and Salem sessions of the Northeast Housing Court. During law school, he continued advocating for at-risk tenants through a Summer Fellowship at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and as a student attorney in Suffolk Law School’s Housing Clinic. While at Suffolk, Attorney Matthews received the Dean’s Public Citizenship Award and the John E. Fenton, J. Public Service Award.

+ BIO: Catherine LaRaia

Catherine LaRaia is a Clinical Fellow in the Suffolk Law School’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program (HDTP). Attorney LaRaia develops and implements testing to detect housing discrimination. She works with enforcement and legal service agencies to investigate discrimination complaints. In addition, Attorney LaRaia coordinates testing related to systemic audits and larger research initiatives. Attorney LaRaia also provides trainings on state and federal fair housing laws to communities, real estate professionals and first time home buyers. Prior to joining HDTP, Attorney LaRaia served as a public defender with Committee of Public Counsel Services for six years in District and Superior Courts throughout the Commonwealth. Attorney LaRaia received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

+ BIO: Jamie Langowski

Jamie Langowski, pronouns: she/her, is a Clinical Fellow at Suffolk University Law School and Assistant Director of Suffolk’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program (HDTP). The HDTP’smission is to eliminate housing discrimination through testing, enforcement, education, and academic research. Attorney Langowski has many years of experience in the area of fair housing law and helped start the HDTP program at SULS. Attorney Langowski has co-developed and co-taught multiple experiential fair housing law courses and is a frequent speaker on topics related to fair housing testing.

Prior to coming to Suffolk, Attorney Langowski clerked for a Boston civil rights attorney and served as Director of Policy and Communications for an At-Large Boston City Councillor where she worked on a wide range of issues with a focus on the environment and education. She is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law.

+ BIO: William Berman

William Berman is a Clinical Professor of Law. He has taught at Suffolk’s Clinical Programs since 2000. He is a graduate of Union College and Boston University School of Law.

Professor Berman is the Managing Attorney of Suffolk’s Accelerator Practice, the third year capstone experience for the Accelerator Program, a three year course of study that introduces students to the theory, practice, business and technology skills needed to represent average income clients who otherwise are without access to the justice system. The Accelerator Practice provides students a year-long clinical experience in a fee generating law firm embedded within the law school. The Accelerator Program offers students a unique opportunity to prepare for practice in a small or solo firm.

Prof. Berman is also the Director of Suffolk’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program, funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in partnership with the Fair Housing Commission of the City of Boston. HDTP’s mission is to eliminate housing discrimination through testing, enforcement and education. Professor Berman and his colleagues have trained over 100 students and community members to conduct housing discrimination testing in the Boston area, and have referred numerous cases to local agencies for enforcement. Professor Berman also oversees Suffolk’s Fair Housing Fellowship Program and teaches a fair housing seminar.

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