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Alleging racial and ethnic discrimination, feds expand complaint against Chicopee Housing Authority

A sign at an entrance to Chicopee, Massachusetts.
File photo
/
MassLive / MassLive.com
A sign at an entrance to Chicopee, Massachusetts.

Federal authorities have filed an amended lawsuit that alleges a western Massachusetts housing authority and its executive director violated federal housing laws by discriminating against Black and Hispanic tenants and people with disabilities.

The original lawsuit against the Chicopee Housing Authority and Executive Director Monica Blazic filed in April alleged that the authority failed to make reasonable accommodations and discriminated against a tenant with disabilities.

The amended complaint filed Tuesday by the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts alleges the defendants discriminated against Black and Hispanic tenants and potential tenants, including through the use of racial slurs.

“The racist conduct alleged in the amended complaint is shocking,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Mendell said in a statement. “Public officials are supposed to do competent work with common decency. When they stray this far from what is acceptable, they run afoul of the law and can expect to hear from this office.”

The complaint goes into detail about the repeated prejudiced remarks allegedly made by Blazic, including that Black and Hispanic residents “should get themselves sterilized.” Regarding Puerto Rican tenants, the complaint quotes Blazic as saying, “Those people need to stay in Springfield and Holyoke and not come in my housing,” or words to that effect.

A lawyer for the defendants said they denied the allegations.

“The Chicopee Housing Authority and Monica Blazic deny the allegations in the strongest possible terms and we plan to vigorously defend it in court,” attorney Melina Garland said in a statement to The Republican.

This report contains information from the Associated Press.

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