New Report: Rise, Saint Louis University Law Clinic, Tower Grove Neighborhoods CDC, A Guide to Understanding and Addressing Vacant Property.
This Guide is intended to help local government officials, neighborhood associations, community-based nonprofits, residents, business owners, and other stakeholders better understand how to work together to use existing tools to address vacant property in the City of St. Louis.
Since 1876, St. Louis has been an independent city, which means that it is not part of any county. Therefore, it operates as both a city and a county. St. Louis is the only city in Missouri that operates its own county offices. This unusual structure means that effectively addressing the vacant property challenge requires coordination not only across City departments, but also across city and county functions.
There are a variety of legal tools and enforcement strategies to address vacancy, and using these tools and strategies effectively requires a coordinated effort from a variety of local government and private actors. Reducing the negative impact of vacancy is like a complex puzzle, requiring coordination and collaboration among the public sector, private stakeholders, and neighborhood leaders to achieve a shared vision.
Posted in Blog Posts, Children, Family, housing, Inequality, Jobs, Measuring Poverty, News Coverage of Poverty, Property, Race, Rural Issues, Socio-Economic Rights
New Article: Brandon Weiss, Locating Affordable Housing: The Legal System’s Misallocation of Subsidized Housing Incentives, 70 Hastings L. J. (2018). Abstract below:
The primary goal of subsidized housing policy in the United States is to increase access to affordable housing for low-income households. Yet data show that states disproportionately award low-income housing tax credits to finance the development of projects in neighborhoods where there is already a relatively high number of housing units available at similar rent levels. Through a fifty-state study of state housing agency allocation rules, this Article evaluates the legal apparatus that facilitates this “misallocation problem.” I find that approximately seventy-five percent of states fail to make the provision of below-market rents a threshold requirement of receiving an award of low-income housing tax credits. As a result, locational choices often are dictated by private developers who are incentivized to develop where land is cheapest. I argue that states should revise their allocation rules to ensure that, as a default, tax credits are awarded to projects that offer at least a ten percent rent advantage as compared to the local private market. The Article considers challenges to this proposal related to lack of state housing agency autonomy, federal framework limitations, land costs, and local political opposition and, in each case, offers a variety of responses.
News Coverage of Poverty: Karen Weise, Microsoft Pledges $500 Million for Affordable Housing in Seattle Area, NYTimes.com, Jan. 16, 2019.
A government report in December found that the Seattle region needs 156,000 more affordable housing units, and will need 88,000 more by 2040 if the region’s growth continues.
New Article: Valerie Schneider, The Prison to Homelessness Pipeline: Criminal Record Checks, Race, and Disparate Impact, 93 Ind. L. J. 421 (2018). Abstract below:
Study after study has shown that securing housing upon release from prison is critical to reducing the likelihood of recidivism, yet those with criminal records— a population that disproportionately consists of racial minorities—are routinely denied access to housing, even if their offense was minor and was shown to have no bearing on whether the applicant would be likely to be a successful renter. In April of 2016, the Office of General Counsel for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued much anticipated guidance dealing directly with the racially disparate impact of barring those with criminal records from public and private housing.
After decades of seeming to encourage local public housing providers to adopt harsh policies barring applicants with criminal records regardless of the nature or recency of the crime, the Obama-era guidance from HUD represents a sea change in federal policy and will force local housing authorities to grapple with the potentially disparate impacts of harsh criminal record policies. The guidance is particularly timely, given that HUD issued a rule clarifying the burden of proof in disparate impact cases in 2013 and the Supreme Court affirmed that disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act in its 2015 decision in Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. Additionally, while the Trump administration seems focused on rolling back Obama-era protections in some arenas, this guidance has remained in place. Even if withdrawn by HUD, the guidance has already inspired local policies restricting the use of criminal background checks in housing decisions potentially giving rise to a new era for those seeking housing after being released from prison. This Article first puts the problem of using criminal records to evaluate potential tenants into historical context, discussing the particular impact of the rising rates of incarceration on minority communities. Next, the Article delves into the guidance itself, examining what it does and does not require of housing providers, with a focus on public housing. Finally, the Article provides insight into what is missing from the guidance, what might be done to strengthen it, how advocates might use it, and how housing providers might work to limit both their legal exposure and moral culpability related to the disparate impact the use of criminal records in housing decisions has on minorities.
New Blog Post: Henry Grabar, America’s Hottest Housing Debate is Coming to Oregon, SLATE, Dec. 14, 2018.
Posted in Blog Posts, Community Activism, Economic Mobility, Family, housing, Inequality, Legal Academia, Politics, Property, Rural Issues, Taxation, Urban Issues