Attorney General Andrea Campbell speaks to reporters on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Photo by Alison Kuznitz | State House News Service

Attorney General Andrea Campbell announced Tuesday that she’s hiring the former faculty director of a prominent legal aid clinic to tackle housing discrimination and make sure Boston suburbs are complying with new transit-oriented zoning requirements.

Esme Caramello will start in her new job as head of the Housing Affordability Unit in the AG’s office in July.

Caramello has been the faculty director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau since 2015. The bureau is a student-run legal aid clinic that represents low-income clients in Greater Boston in housing, family and workplace matters in the state courts.

“As Massachusetts seeks to address soaring housing prices and rising rents that harm our residents, families, and businesses, my office has unique tools to help address the crisis, and we intend to do our part,” Campbell said in a statement. “By establishing the Housing Affordability Unit and appointing Esme, who has deep expertise in housing, my office is committed to using all of our tools to ensure more safe and affordable housing opportunities for all.”

A major part of Caramello’s remit will be riding herd over the 177 communities in the MBTA’s service area subject to the MBTA Communities law, making sure they comply with the regulations requiring towns and cities to zone for more multifamily housing development. Campbell’s office has already sued one town, Milton, that blew past its end-of-2023 deadline to create its zoning and a handful of towns facing their own Dec. 31, 2024 deadline are threatening to likewise reject the law.

Part of that will include “engaging in legal advocacy to support affordable and multi-family housing development” and providing “resources and guidance to municipalities and developers,” Campbell’s office said.

Caramello’s unit will also take point on investigating “predatory or discriminatory housing practices,” Campbell’s office said. The Massachusetts attorney general’s office is also the state’s primary consumer protection agency and has historically investigated claims of housing discrimination by real estate agents and landlords.

“With this new unit, AG Campbell isn’t just talking about addressing the state’s housing crisis, she’s walking the walk – and I’m thrilled to be at the forefront of that work,” Caramello said in a statement. “I look forward to working with staff across the AG’s Office, as well as our community partners, to protect residents, advance fair housing, and ensure all stakeholders across the state are acting in compliance with the law.”

AG’s Office Adds Top Housing Cop

by James Sanna time to read: 2 min