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Group to Survey Local Housing Bias

Negro, White Students Will Work on Project


A group of Negro and white volunteers, most of them Harvard and Radcliffe students, will meet Saturday to map out plans for a preliminary survey of housing discrimination in Cambridge.

If the survey discloses extensive discrimination, it will be followed by a three-pronged program to find openings for homeseekers who wish to move out of predominantly Negro communities, to discourage housing bias in Cambridge, and to secure the display of fair housing literature in local realty company offices.

The entire project, which is being conducted in cooperation with the Cambridge Fair Housing Committee and Fair Housing Inc. in Roxbury, is headed by Henry C. Hatfield, professor of German, the Rev. Richard E. Mumma, director of the United Ministry, the Rev. H. Paul Santmire, associate pastor of the University Lutheran Church, and Mrs. Mary Ann Witt, G5.

Starting this weekend, volunteers will apply for housing in Cambridge; they will compare the responses received by Negro and white applicants.

Under state law, discrimination in housing is forbidden. If cases can be documented in which Negroes are denied openings available to whites, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination is empowered to investigate and serve injunctions against landlords.

The Cambridge Fair Housing Committee, according to Mrs. Witt, one of the co-chairman, has already found numerous instances of discrimination in the City. Until now, the Committee has been devoting its efforts to aiding and advising specific Negro families and individuals seeking housing in Cambridge.

This year, the Committee sponsored a series of luncheon meetings in Kirkland House with Cambridge citizens who are familiar with the housing situation, and decided that the time was ripe for a city-wide survey.

The Committee has found discrimination mostly at the low-income level, and expects it to become more severe if the proposed Inner Belt is built. Construction of the highway would probably mean the loss of 1200 homes, and the project leaders hope to find new openings for Negroes before that occurs.

The Committee is still seeking volunteers to serve as aides to Negroes looking for housing in Cambridge and to work on the survey and any subsequent tests of specific instances of discrimination. Although response from whites has been enthusiastic, the leaders of the project are still looking for more Negroes to work as volunteers.

The preliminary meeting for the project will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday at the University Lutheran Church next to the IAB.

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