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Old Colony to Get New Look; Grievance Process Still the Same

South Boston's Old Colony public housing complex will soon be getting the works. The redevelopment project has been approved and will begin construction soon, according to The Boston Globe.

The redevelopment is promoted as not only a refurbishing of public housing in South Boston, but also as a creator of jobs. The project will also include pre-apprenticeship training for 30 residents, according to the Globe.

The soon-to-be improved buildings remind us that public-housing residents have the same rights as tenants in private housing. But there's a different grievance process for public-housing residents.

Tenants always have the right to not be discriminated against because of their race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or other characteristics protected by law. Tenants can't be discriminated against when they apply for housing, or be treated differently once they've moved in.

The housing must also be habitable. This means that there must be working heat, running water, locking doors, no vermin, and an overall safe premises.

When you have a problem with a private landlord, you can usually just give him a call or write him an email explaining the problem. However, with public housing you have to go through a formal grievance process for any issue that you have.

In Boston, the general grievance method is to have a grievance hearing, which can be obtained by filing a request with your housing manager or mailing a written request to the Department of Grievances and Appeals in care of the Hearing Panel Coordinator.

After filing or mailing your request, a decision will be made about a hearing. All tenants have the right to a hearing unless their grievance is in response to an eviction caused by the wrongful or illegal act of a resident or his guest.

Once your hearing is scheduled, you have the right to examine any documents regarding your issue and to present evidence. You can also have an attorney present, among other due process rights. If your issue is serious enough, you may want to have a Boston real estate attorney assist you in your grievance.

If in the end your grievance is not decided in your favor, you also have the right to appeal. So be sure to know your rights as a public housing tenant, and know exactly what to do if you ever encounter a problem.

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