News Coverage of Poverty: Bruce Smith & Julie Turkewitz, Shutdown Leaves Food, Medicine and Pay in Doubt in Indian Country, NYTimes.com, Jan. 1, 2019.
The Chippewa Indian food distribution site in Sault Ste. Marie. Tribal leaders expressed uncertainty this week about whether deliveries of fresh food would continue arriving.
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 Even if withdrawn by HUD, the guidance has already inspired local policies restricting the use of criminal background checks in housing decisions potentially giving rise to a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.
News Coverage of Poverty: Peter Wade, The Shutdown’s Next Victims Are America’s Poorest Families, RollingStone, Jan. 6, 2019.
Food stamps, housing assistance, and tax refunds are all at risk.
New Article: Andrea Freeman, Unmothering Black Women: Formula Feeding as an Incident of Slavery, 69 Hastings L.J. 1545 (2018). Abstract below:
Laws and policies that impede Black mothers’ ability to breastfeed their children began in slavery and persist as an incident of that institution today. They originated in the practice of removing enslaved new mothers from their infants to work or to serve as wet nurses for slave owners’ children. The stereotype of the bad Black mother justified this separation. This trope also underlies racial disparities in breastfeeding rates in the present. The mythical Mammy loved the White children under her care but callously neglected her own. Today, the Welfare Queen reproduces for the sole purpose of gaming the system. Collective belief in the existence of the bad Black mother leads to low or no investment in resources for Black mothers who want to breastfeed, and to laws and policies that inhibit their opportunities to do so. Black infants and mothers suffer from related health conditions, including infant mortality, at disproportionately and unacceptably high rates. Structural reforms grounded in constitutional principles are necessary to reverse this manifestation of food oppression.
New Op-Ed: Emily Bazelon & Miriam Krinsky, There’s a Wave of New Prosecutors. And They Mean Justice, NYTimes.com, Dec. 11, 2018.
New Article: Shaun Ossei-Owusu, The State Giveth and Taketh Away: Race, Class, and Urban Hospital Closings, 92 Chi-Kent L. Rev. 1037 (2018). Abstract below:
This essay uses concepts from Bernadette Atuahene’s book We Want What’s Ours: Learning from South Africa’s Land Restitution Program to examine the trend of urban hospital closings. It does so by focusing specifically on the history of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, a charitable hospital in South Los Angeles, California that emerged after the Watts riots in 1965. The essay illustrates how Professor Atuahene’s framework can generate unique questions about the closing of urban hospitals, and public bureaucracies more generally. The essay also demonstrates how Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital’s trajectory hones some of Atuahene’s concepts in ways that can enhance the ways scholars write and think about the loss of property, the loss community institutions, and ways to remedy such losses.
New Report: Leslie Gordon, Mashael Majid, and Tony Roshan Samara, Urban Habitat &
Fernando Echeverria and Seema Rupani, East Bay Community Law Center, Rooted in Home: Community-Based Alternatives to the Bay Area Housing Crisis (2018).
The San Francisco Bay Area, as one of the wealthiest metropolitan regions in the world, should be able to provide stable, decent, affordable housing for all of its residents. Instead, the region is in the grips of an acute housing affordability crisis.
New article: Leah A. Hill, Loving Lessons: White Supremacy, Loving v. Virginia, and Disproportionality in the Child Welfare System, 86 Fordham L. Rev. 2727 (2018). Abstract below:
Part I of this Article introduces a brief discussion of the history of antimiscegenation laws and, specifically, their prevalence in the Commonwealth of Virginia during the 1950s. Next, Part II sets forth a short commentary about the Lovings’ triumph over antimiscegenation. Part III then details the Lovings’ judicial hurdles against the state, which argued that its antimiscegenation laws were enacted, in part, to prevent child abuse and thus served legitimate state interests. Part IV argues that the remnants of the white supremacist ideology at the center of Loving appear in our modern child welfare system, which has long been plagued by disproportionate representation of black children and families. Finally, Part V builds on this discussion and contends that the prevalence of racial disproportionality in the current child welfare system is the product of front-end implicit bias, a view supported by extensive research on decision-making and behavioral conduct. It argues that current child welfare management and investigatory practices allow implicit bias to sneak in at the front end of such practices, thereby providing gateways to disproportionality.
Posted in Articles, Children, Criminalization of Poverty, deserving/undeserving, Family, housing, Inequality, Legal Academia, Race, Rural Issues, Urban Issues