New Op-Ed: They Say They Are Attacking Abortion. They Are Really Hurting the Poor.

Samuel Dickman, They Say They Are Attacking Abortion. They Are Really Hurting the Poor, N.Y. Times (Feb. 16, 2021).

“Supporters of Planned Parenthood during a rally outside the State Capitol in Austin, Texas.” Ilana Panich-Lunsman/Reuters

Dickman argues that stringent medicare rules make it more difficult for those living in poverty to get health care, especially in Texas. A new plan to keep public funds from Planned Parenthood targets not only abortion services, but also the availability of other essential care services at Planned Parenthood. To read more, click the link above.

New Book: Crisis Lawyering: Effective Legal Advocacy in Emergency Situations

CLNew Book: Crisis Lawyering: Effective Legal Advocacy in Emergency Situations (Ray Brescia & Eric K. Sterns, eds., 2021). Overview below:

In an increasingly globalized world, a complex and interlocking web of nations, governments, non-state actors, laws, and rules affect human behavior. When crisis hits―whether that be extrajudicial detention, unprompted deportation, pandemics, or natural disasters―lawyers are increasingly among the first responders, equipped with the knowledge necessary to navigate the regulations of this ever more complex world. This Introduction of the book Crisis Lawyering: Effective Legal Advocacy in Emergency Situations explores this phenomenon and attempts to identify and define what it means to engage in the practice of law in crisis situations. In so doing, it hopes to sketch out the contours of the emerging field of crisis lawyering. Contributors to this volume explore cases surrounding domestic violence; dealing with immigrants in detention and banned from travel; policing in Ferguson, Missouri; the kidnapping of journalists; and climate change, among other crises. Their analysis not only serves as guidance to lawyers in such situations, but also helps others who deal with crises understand those crises―and the role of lawyers in them―better so that they may respond to them more effectively, efficiently, collaboratively and creatively.
Crisis Lawyering shines a light on the emerging field of law dedicated to responding to and resolving the complex crises of the twenty-first century.

The impressive chapter/author list is available here and the introduction is available for download on SSRN here.  As you will see, a number of the chapters relate in some way to poverty law. The discount code “CRISIS30” provides a 30% off discount.

-Congrats to all involved!

New Op-Ed: The New Debt Prisons

Gene B. Sperling, The New Debt Prisons, N.Y. Times (Feb. 16, 2021).

Introduction Below:

While controversial calls to “defund the police” have grabbed headlines, we urgently need to examine how we fund the police today. The increasing use of excessive fees, fines, and surcharges to fund parts of our criminal justice system is creating punitive debt traps for millions of low-income Americans leaving prison. Many find themselves in an economic prison: prevented from paying down their debts by the debts themselves. Others are so entrapped that they are actually reincarcerated for unpaid debt. Either way, they are denied the dignity of a real second chance — and a fresh start to pursue one’s purpose and to contribute to family, community and country.

New Article: Opportunism Zones

Edward W. De Barbieri, Opportunism Zones, 39 Yale L. & Pol’y (forthcoming 2021). Abstract below:

In 2017, Congress adopted the Opportunity Zone, an unheralded yet powerful place-based economic development tool, as part of tax re-form. Place-based economic development tools and strategies provide incentives to attract jobs and capital to areas where jobs and capital have fled. Investors in state-designated Opportunity Zone districts are able to (1) defer capital gains on qualified investments, and (2) reduce their tax bills when selling qualifying real estate or business property. Proponents of the bipartisan Opportunity Zone argue that tax incentives are an efficient way to direct investment dollars to poor areas. Critics, however, point out that such government interventions in the economy are stricken by corruption, abuse, and waste.

This Article analyzes and critiques the Opportunity Zone, and argues that compared to other place-based economic development tools implemented through law it is an extreme and potentially frightening approach. I identify three key aspects—use, transparency, and participation—which focus my analysis on the extent to which Opportunity Zones may in fact harm the areas they are supposed to benefit. There are prudent reasons to be skeptical of the benefits of the Opportunity Zone, especially considering their potential to widen and increase wealth and in-come inequality.

I argue that place-based economic development strategies are not necessarily to blame. Rather, it is the Opportunity Zone, a tool to benefit investors and existing landowners, that needs reform, or elimination. I explore proposals to restructure the Opportunity Zone that limit the uses of invested funds, improve transparency to assess meaningful outcomes, and involve stakeholder groups through participation.

New Book: Foreclosed: Mortgage Servicing and the Hidden Architecture of Homeownership in America

Christopher K. Odinet, Foreclosed: Mortgage Servicing and the Hidden Architecture of Homeownership in America (2019).

In Foreclosed, Christopher K. Odinet gives voice to the stories of homeowners that have been neglected, particularly those facing foreclosure and deep financial distress. The book reveals the powerful and often invisible mortgage servicing industry, the tremendous discretionary power it wields over the housing lives of most Americans, and the servicing problems that still persist today. In doing so, it unveils a quiet and dangerous market shift in mortgage servicing – namely, an ongoing move toward a shadow banking sector where regulation is weak – that threatens the stability of our housing finance system. Ultimately, the book demonstrates how the law does not afford homeowners the protection most think and how regulation of these mortgage middlemen remains weak. Foreclosed should be read by anyone concerned with the state of housing and home ownership in the United States.

Source: Publisher, Cambridge University Press

Transcribed Conversation: 5 Ways the Biden Administration Can Help Rural America Thrive

Transcribed Conversation: 5 Ways the Biden Administration Can Help Rural America Thrive, Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity, Feb. 17, 2021.

New Op-ed: ‘There’s No Natural Dignity in Work’

New Op-ed: Ezra Klein, ‘There’s No Natural Dignity in Work’, N.Y. Times, Feb. 18, 2021. 

Opinion: What to Tell the Critics of a $15 Minimum Wage

Gus Wezerek, What to Tell the Critics of a $15 Minimum Wage, N.Y. Times (Feb. 11, 2021).

Based off of the experience of Erica Hunt, a resident of Milwaukee, WI, Wezerek argues that an increase to a $15 minimum wage will not inflate pay, hurt small businesses, or reduce the total number of jobs. To read, this opinion piece, visit the link above.

New Blog Post: The Pitfalls of Food and Nutrition

Molly Lao, The Pitfalls of Food and Nutrition, Calif. L. Rev. (Jan. 2021). Introduction Below:

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the largest federal anti-hunger program in the United States, is perhaps the most important income supplement for low-income individuals. Every few years, a debate reemerges in Congress around block granting SNAP. The debate highlights the tradeoff between the cost savings of block grants versus the stability of the program to participants. Block grants can provide states with flexibility over SNAP requirements. However, keeping SNAP as an entitlement program will better provide benefits to individuals in need. Instead of reviving politically contentious debates each time Congress discusses SNAP block grants’ budget, Congress should maintain SNAP’s current entitlement program to better to prioritize anti-hunger goals. This blog discusses two case studies, the Nutritional Assistance Program (NAP) in Puerto Rico and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF), which illustrate the negative consequences of block granting programs and why Congress should resist this move.

News Coverage: Pandemic’s Toll on Housing: Falling Behind, Doubling Up

Conor Dougherty, Pandemic’s Toll on Housing: Falling Behind, Doubling Up, New York Times (Feb. 6, 2021).

Eviction moratoriums don’t keep arrears from piling up, and aid to renters may not reach the most vulnerable.