Cambridge City

Policy Order
POR 2018 #193
Jul 30, 2018 5:30 PM

That the City Manager is requested to direct the Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission to provide answers to additional outstanding housing-related questions.


Department:City Clerk's Office, DSSponsors:Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Councillor Alanna Mallon
Category:Policy Order


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On May 21, 2018, the City Council passed a Policy Order asking that the Cambridge Human Rights Commission provide critical information regarding housing-related activities – including the number of housing-related investigations, the number of housing-related cases successfully mediated, the relationships with regional housing-related organizations, and successes and challenges of the Cambridge Fair Housing Ordinance; and




This Policy Order was intended to help the Housing Committee obtain a significantly better understanding of the state of housing in Cambridge than currently exists, with specific requests including full data about evictions in the City, housing-related lawsuits, cases where discrimination has been charged, and cases mediated by City agencies; and




The City Manager responded to this Policy Order on June 25, 2018, yet the memo that was provided by the Director of the Human Rights Commission left a number of critical questions unanswered; and   




Among the questions that remain outstanding, which the members of the Housing Committee are specifically hoping will be addressed, are the following:


·         How many and what types of housing discrimination complaints were reported to the CHRC during the period of FY 2015 – FY 2018 (by year)? How many of these complaints were investigated by CHRC, and what were the outcomes? How many of these complaints were referred out by the CHRC (by year), and to whom were those referrals made?


·         What is the CHRC’s definition of a “successful conciliation?” Does this count all complaints that have come to an end, regardless of whether or not the complainant has reached what they feel is a favorable result? 


·         The CHRC’s process is branded as “voluntary” – does this, in effect, mean that landlords and building managers involved in these complaints are less likely to comply with an investigation? Does the City have any specific recourse if it is determined that respondents are not fully cooperating with these investigations?


·         Can the CHRC explain why it is not current practice to track eviction data or data regarding housing related lawsuits?


·         What is the CHRC’s definition of a “successful conciliation,” and is there a specific desired outcome for this process on the part of the CHRC and/or the City?


Obtaining the answers to these questions is necessary for the Housing Committee and the City Council as a whole to better understand this community’s affordable housing challenges; now therefore be it




That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to obtain answers to each of the above questions from the Cambridge Human Rights Commission and to report back on this matter to the City Council in a timely manner; and be it further




That the Co-Chairs of the Housing Committee be and hereby are requested to forward to the Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission a written list of additional questions pertaining to the above referenced June 25, 2018 memo, and to schedule a hearing in September during which the Executive Director will be invited to answer these additional questions in depth.


Meeting History

Jul 30, 2018 5:30 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
draft Draft