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Affirmative Marketing

We work to encourage those least likely to apply for housing in Boston to learn about their options.

We promote equal access to income-restricted housing for all persons by establishing standards for:

  1. public outreach
  2. advertising, and
  3. tenant and buyer selection criteria.

Our commission oversees the development and implementation of Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing and Tenant/Home Buyer Selection Plans (the Plan). We also review how owners/developers, marketing agents and property management staff are screening people for income-restricted housing opportunities.

Our goal is to promote these housing opportunities and monitor compliance within fair housing law, and within the confines of the contract in policies such as the Boston Fair Chance Tenant Selection Policy, the Neighborhood Diversity Preservation Pilot.

Program Information

The affirmative marketing program

On April 17th, 1978, the Boston chapter of the NAACP sued HUD and the city for failing to rectify a long history of racial discrimination in housing, that resulted in heavily segregated housing patterns in Boston. As a result, HUD, the City, and the NAACP filed a Consent Decree to address the issues in the case. The Decree extended BFHC’s responsibility by requiring:

  • the creation of the Metrolist program;
  • the enhancement the Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing program;

The Boston Fair Housing Commission (BFHC) was created in 1982 by the Boston City Council, and sections 10-3.1 to 10-3.6 of the City Code lay out the structure and responsibilities of the BFHC. 

who is subject to the affirmative marketing program?

Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing is required for all developments with five or more units with government assistance including land acquisition or financial assistance from Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (including DHCD), or the federal government (HUD).

All income-restricted units under the City of Boston’s Inclusionary Development Program (IDP) are subject to Affirmative Marketing requirements. 

Developers and their agents are compelled to affirmatively further fair housing by taking steps that are stipulated in the Plan. Their responsibilities include informing those least likely to apply for housing because of the location of that housing, and to not discriminate or permit discrimination in the sale and/or rental use and occupancy of the property. 

More Than 'Not Discriminating'

Affirmative Fair Housing means more than “not discriminating.” It means taking steps to inform those least likely to apply for housing because of its location.

Affirmative Fair Housing means removing barriers to housing choice. Our goal is to make households aware of opportunities outside of their neighborhoods. We want to attract an applicant pool that mirrors the racial composition of the City as a whole. We also work to encourage and provide language access to housing programs.

Categories of income-restricted Housing

There are several categories of income-restricted housing subject to the standards of the City’s Program. The requirements differ slightly, based on size and type of development. 

Costs that can be subsidized include the: purchase, development, operation, or renovation of the property.

Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) Mandated Housing

Government-assisted Housing means housing whose cost is subsidized — in whole or in part — with federal, state, or local funds and government resources. This can include the donation or sale of government-owned land.

Housing restricted as a result of the Mayor’s Executive Order relating to Inclusionary Development is also subject to the program. Do you need an Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan form? Contact Affirmative Marketing.


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