New Article: “The Gendered Impact of Illegal Act Eviction Laws”

Leora Smith, The Gendered Impact of Illegal Act Eviction Laws, 52 Harv. L. Rev. 538 (2107). [Abstract below]

In Toronto and New York City, “illegal act” eviction laws allow public
housing providers to evict every member of a household on the basis of a single
illegal act committed by a single person in their home. Leaseholders and their
dependents can be evicted even if they were not involved in the illegal act underpinning the eviction. An analysis of illegal act evictions carried out over the last six years by North America’s two largest public housing providers, Toronto
Community Housing Corporation and New York City Housing Authority, suggests
that illegal act evictions laws have a grossly disproportionate impact on
women. In both Toronto and New York City, women are far more likely than
men to be evicted for actions that they did not personally commit. In both cities,
in at least 88% of instances where a leaseholder was evicted because of actions
committed by another person, the leaseholder was a woman. Also in both cities,
women threatened with illegal act evictions actually committed the underlying
illegal act in less than 35% of instances. Men who face eviction are more likely
to do so for their own actions. These trends hold true despite the fact that the
laws governing each jurisdiction are interpreted quite differently. The results
from this limited investigation beg further study and suggest that illegal act eviction
laws unfairly impact women – regularly punishing them for the actions of


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