Ryan to propose deficit-neutral anti-poverty plan – The Washington Post

Ryan to propose deficit-neutral anti-poverty plan – The Washington Post [punchline: block grant everything].

Two New Practice Guides: “U Visas for Immigrant Victims of Hate Crimes: A Practice Guide for Advocates” and ” Financial Costs for Youth and Their Families in the Alameda County Juvenile Justice System: A Guide for Advocates”

Two New Practice Guides prepared as part of a Berkeley law clinic program:

News Coverage: “D.C. family homeless shelter beset by dysfunction, decay”

An extensive article:  Justin Jouvenal, Robert Samuels & DeNeen L. Brown, D.C. family homeless shelter beset by dysfunction, decay, Washington Post, July 12, 2014.

And here is a related op-ed from DC’s other paper: Aaron Weiner, D.C. General Is Awful. Closing It Could Be Worse., Washington City Paper, July 14, 2014.

Upcoming Conference: “Poverty and Place Conference” – UC Davis Nov. 13-14, 2014

Upcoming Conference: “Poverty and Place Conference” – UC Davis Nov. 13-14, 2014.  From the conference website:

The Poverty and Place conference will bring together scholars from across many disciplines—sociology, economics, law, education, social work, geography, planning—to present and discuss their work on the ways in which space and place inflect various dimensions of poverty.

Among other topics, scholars will address the ways in which place can aggravate poverty, as in persistent poverty counties and regions, but also how place-specific interventions can effectively ameliorate poverty.  Papers addressing different aspects of urban, suburban and rural poverty will be part of the conference agenda.

Confirmed presenters include:
• Scott Allard, Social Work, University of Chicago
• Evelyn Blumenberg, Planning, School of Public Affairs, UCLA
• Tracey Farrigan, Geographer, USDA Economic Research Service
• Victoria Lawson and Sarah Elwood, Geography, University of Washington
• Bertrall Ross, Law, UC Berkeley
• Kai Schafft, Sociologist in Dept. of Education, Penn State University
• Jennifer Sherman, Sociology, Washington State University
• Margaret Weir, Sociology, UC Berkeley

The website also has a registration link.  Note as well that this conference is happening just before and overlapping with the ClassCrits conference that is also at UC Davis.

In Connecticut, Breaking Barrier Between a Suburb and Public Housing – NYTimes.com

In Connecticut, Breaking Barrier Between a Suburb and Public Housing – NYTimes.com.

New Article: “The Rise and Fall of Unconscionability as the ‘Law of the Poor’”

New Article: Anne Fleming, The Rise and Fall of Unconscionability as the ‘Law of the Poor’, 102 Georgetown L.J. 1383 (2014) .  Abstract below:

What happened to unconscionability? Here’s one version of the story: The doctrine of unconscionability experienced a brief resurgence in the mid-1960s at the hands of naive, left-liberal, activist judges, who used it to rewrite private consumer contracts according to their own sense of justice. These folks meant well, no doubt, much like present-day consumer protection crusaders who seek to ensure the “fairness” of financial products and services. But courts’ refusal to enforce terms they deemed “unconscionable” served only to increase the cost of doing business with low-income households. Judges ended up hurting the very people they were trying to help. In the face of incisive criticism, judicial enthusiasm for the doctrine of unconscionability quickly faded. A new consensus emerged in favor of legislation requiring better disclosure of consumer contract terms ex ante, rather than ex post judicial review.

This Article presents a different narrative, one that is informed by extensive research in previously untapped archival sources. In this story, the wise legislature does not overrule the misguided courts. On the contrary, it reveals that lawmakers laid the groundwork for the judicial revival of unconscionability, and then rewrote statutory rules to codify the ensuing court decisions. In the District of Columbia, home to the famous Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co. litigation, the legislature revived unconscionability through the enactment of the Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.), which reintroduced the once-archaic doctrine into the legal vernacular. Just as the U.C.C. drafters intended, unconscionability review allowed courts to do openly what they had been doing covertly for years — refuse to enforce harsh, one-sided bargains as written. In 1965, the D.C. Circuit seized the opportunity unconscionability offered to prevent the loss of a poor woman’s furniture. But the Williams litigation also did something more. It drew public attention to the controversy before the court and alerted D.C. lawmakers to a recurring problem in need of a legislative fix. In response, local leaders set to work drafting consumer credit reform legislation. Lawmakers eventually adopted a firm set of rules to govern “installment” sales contracts in the District of Columbia, including a ban on the objectionable contract term at issue in Williams.

In this narrative, judges and legislators did not advance competing regulatory visions. They agreed on the need for substantive limits on installment sales to poor borrowers. Moreover, contrary to what some scholars might predict, litigation did not divert scarce resources down a dead-end path. Rather, it catalyzed the process of legislative change, raising public consciousness of problems in the low-income marketplace and fueling the drive for substantive reforms on the local level.

New Article: “EITC as Income (In)Stability?”

New Article: Kerry A. Ryan, EITC as Income (In)Stability?, 15 Fla. Tax Rev. 583 (2014).  Abstract below:

Congress enacted the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), inter alia, to entice poor single mothers to work (or work more) as a means of lifting themselves out of poverty. Its design as a wage subsidy that phases out at higher earnings levels is intended to accomplish this goal. A strong labor market is crucial to the success of work-based benefit programs, such as the EITC. The EITC can motivate female household heads to work (or work more), but they cannot act on that motivation if no jobs or additional working hours exist. This Article demonstrates that during economic downturns, the EITC wage subsidy contributes to, rather than prevents, poverty in single-mother families. Lost EITC benefits exacerbate recession-induced earnings losses, a phenomenon this Article refers to as income destabilization. In contrast, the EITC stabilizes the incomes of its wealthier beneficiaries as increased credit amounts offset underlying salary declines. While this pattern of income (de)stabilization is an unintended byproduct of the design of the EITC as a targeted wage subsidy, its negative impact on the economic welfare of female-headed households is problematic, given that these same families are the historically targeted program beneficiaries. This Article offers a narrowly tailored proposal that alters the structure of the EITC during recessionary periods in order to prevent EITC-induced income destabilization.

Op-Ed: “Living in a Vehicle”

Op-Ed: Linda Tashbook, Living in a Vehicle, Jurist Forum, June 26, 2014.  This op-ed focuses on the notable decision in Desertrain, available here.

Op-Ed: “Improving Federal Laws To End Poverty in Indian Country”

Op-Ed: Robert T. Coulter, Improving Federal Laws To End Poverty in Indian Country, Equal Voice, July 1, 2014.

Navajo Nation - Photo Copyright Ezra Rosser

Navajo Nation – Photo Copyright Ezra Rosser

Upcoming Event and New Book: “Income Support for the Poorest: A Review of Experience in Eastern Europe and Central Asia”

Income SupportUpcoming Event and New Book: The World Bank has published a new book, Emil Tesliuc et al., Income Support for the Poorest: A Review of Experience in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (2014) and is also hosting a related book panel on July 9 from 3-4:30pm at the World Bank in Washington, D.C (Auditorium J1-050; World Bank J Building, 701 18th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20433; RSVP infoshopevents@worldbank.org).

-Thanks to Paul Prettitore for the the heads up!