Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

Publications

Excluded from the Affordable Care Act because of politics, thousands of poor Americans grapple with the toll — physical and psychological — of being uninsured.
The wealth discrepancy between blacks and whites is one of the most stark examples of inequality in America. If national median numbers weren’t bad enough, things look much worse in America’s cities, according to a new paper from the Urban Institute.
If the nation’s capital were free of its stark racial inequities, it could be a more prosperous and competitive city—one where everyone could reach their full potential and build better lives for themselves and their families.
The Providers Advancing Student Outcomes, or PASO, run by the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition has received national notice and represents one of the few initiatives targeted to Spanish-speaking early childcare providers, many of whom are undocumented and are not eligible to otherwise receive licensing.
While it is commonly understood that the Great Recession ended on June 2009, the total number of consumers having their foreclosure or negative public records still on their credit report actually peaked in 2015. This paper examines the lasting impact of these negative records on consumer spending and economic recovery.
As a whole, Hispanics are disproportionately concentrated in the lowest-opportunity neighborhoods in U.S. metro areas. However, reflecting this ethnic group's diversity, there is great variation by national origin in their distribution across different levels of neighborhood opportunity. Explore Hispanic diversity in terms of access to neighborhoods of opportunity for two dozen Hispanic-origin subgroups across the 100 largest metro areas with new indicators and visualizations by diversitydatakids.org.
The foreclosures in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, aren’t because homeowners owe money to banks. People here are losing their homes because of unpaid property taxes ― taxes that, in many cases, are based on outrageously high assessments that have not been updated for more than two decades.
Should your ZIP code determine your future? Not according to American ideals of social mobility. American realities, however, tell a different story: Where people grow up goes a long way toward shaping how well they will be educated, how stable their families will be, how high their dreams can soar.
The incident began when a school-based police officer happened to walk by Kaylb’s classroom and hear him crying and disrupting other students, according to a lawsuit filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Kaylb’s family. When Kaylb continued to cry and yell in the hallway, against the officer’s requests, the officer put the child in handcuffs and brought him to the main office, where he sat until a parent arrived.
Low-income families who use housing subsidies to move from struggling to thriving communities represent perhaps the country’s best shot at breaking intergenerational poverty. Landmark research from Harvard University last year showed that children from poor families who make the transition at a young age are more likely to go to college, less likely to become single parents, and earn more money than those who remain behind.

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To write an ethnography about poor urban people is to risk courting controversy. While all ethnographers face questions about how well they knew their site or how much their stories can be trusted, the tone and content of those questions typically remain within the bounds of collegial discourse. Ethnographers of poor minorities have incited distinct passion and at times acrimony, inspiring accusations of stereotyping, misrepresentation, sensationalism, and even cashing in on the problems of the poor (Fischer 2014; see Boelen 1992; Reed 1994; Wacquant 2002; Jones 2010; Betts 2014; Rios 2015)...
2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity (CLiME): This paper hopes to clarify the rights of students suffering from traumas, while pointing out the failures of districts and proposing possible solutions to the problems. This paper first examines what kind of special education accommodations students suffering from Traumas are entitled to. By examining the Individuals with Disability Act, New Jersey’s special education laws and section 504 of the American’s with Disabilities Act, and case law I am able to clarify what districts are required to do for students who suffer from traumas. I also investigate how districts fail in classifying and accommodating students with traumas, mainly those students who are minorities or from poor socioeconomic classes. After looking to case law to see where courts may be failing in enforcing special education rights, I look to law journal articles. Finally this utilizes Harvard Law’s research on students with traumas, and how they have worked to improve those student’s rights.
2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity: Municipal court cases account for the bulk of all legal filings and are often the only interaction that many people have with the judicial system, yet there is a significant lack of research on the impact of municipal courts on our daily lives. The municipal court experience is often the formative factor in developing an individual’s perception of the judicial system. Quite often, our poorest residents have to shoulder the burden of frequenting the most ineffective and busiest municipal courts in the state. Part I of the paper provides an introduction to the municipal court system in New Jersey and the role that they play in regulating the daily lives of New Jersey residents. Part II is an examination of two neighboring municipal courts. Part III consists of an analysis of how the judiciary defines the role of municipal courts in society. Part IV is an evaluation of current judicial reforms and whether these reforms are tailored to address the problems which plague municipal courts. This paper will conclude with recommendations for municipal court reform.
2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity (CLiME): Food scarcity is a problem throughout the United States, but particularly acute within the urban ecosystem. As a result of mid-20th century urban flight, many urban supermarkets have followed the dollar, leaving urban communities- predominantly communities of color- underserved by traditional grocery retailers. To address this, I explore the idea of creating a sustainable nonprofit/for-profit partnership that can harness the strengths of both sectors to forge an enduring and duplicable hybrid solution to inequitable access.
2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity (CLiME): The low wage labor market today is characterized by the increased utilization of part-time and temporary workers, with volatile work schedules. These practices shift business risk to workers, and place their lives in a constant state of instability. Unpredictable work schedules prevent workers from pursuing supplemental employment, training, or attending to caregiver responsibilities. This diminishes the future economic potential of workers, effectively creating a worker caste system, and establishing a structural barrier to income mobility. Policy intervention is needed to curb the unpredictable work scheduling practices that have become a ubiquitous part of low wage work.
2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity (CLiME): This paper examines how suburban redevelopment functions to perpetuate inequality at the individual, municipal, and metropolitan levels. This paper first examines the role of homeownership in the access to opportunities in the United States, and then examines the relationship between exclusion and inequality. I specifically examine two types of redevelopment: 1) redevelopment initiated by city council action, and 2) single-lot homeowner redevelopment. I conclude with some of the implications of this trend of suburban redevelopment on segregation, the provision of public goods, and the continuation of structural inequality at various levels.
Since the achievement gap has been utilized to justify a plethora of reforms, it is critical to re-analyze our understanding of the phenomenon, as well as our understanding of educational equity in a broader sense. This paper studies the way that equity has been conceptualized within the education system, including how the achievement gap has been defined, measured, and addressed by practitioners and researchers, ultimately examining strengths and limitations, with implications for more effective ways of addressing the issue.
Out of the 12 million single-parent families in the United States, the vast majority—more than 80 percent—are headed by women. These households are more likely than any other demographic group to fall below the poverty line. In fact, census data shows that roughly 40 percent of single-mother-headed families are poor. Why? Experts point to weak social-safety nets, inadequate child support, and low levels of education, among other factors.
A federal lawsuit alleges that the Compton, California, school district failed to support kids who experience emotional stress.
Translated into the terminology of structural inequality, what happened in Baltimore says a lot about the geography of opportunity—and the growing intolerance about its disparities.

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Arguments about race are often heated and anecdotal. As a social scientist, I naturally turn to empirical research for answers. As it turns out, an impressive body of research spanning decades addresses just these issues — and leads to some uncomfortable conclusions and makes us look at this debate from a different angle. The central challenge of such research is isolating the effect of race from other factors.
The automobile is at the center of the biggest boom in subprime lending since the mortgage crisis. The market for loans to buy used cars is growing rapidly. And similar to how a red-hot mortgage market once coaxed millions of borrowers into recklessly tapping the equity in their homes, the new boom is also leading people to take out risky lines of credit known as title loans.
College graduates have survived both the recession and ho-hum recovery far better than those without a degree, but blacks who finished four years of college are suffering from unemployment rates that are painfully high compared with their white counterparts.
This is the fourth in a series of interviews with philosophers on race that Prof. George Yancy am conducting for The Stone. This week’s conversation is with Joy James, a political philosopher who is a professor of the humanities and political science at Williams College. She is the author of “Seeking the Beloved Community: A Feminist Race Reader.”
Decades of public and private housing discrimination made St. Louis one of the most racially segregated metropolitan areas in the country. A network of school district boundaries has, to this day, divided students in racially separate schools as effectively as any Jim Crow law.
Shweta Kohli joined a lending circle, which offered her the chance to build her credit score. Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times
While informal lending circles among families, acquaintances, co-workers and neighbors are familiar to hundreds of millions of people all over the globe, they are rarely recognized by mainstream financial institutions. But now these centuries-old networks are being seen as a promising tool to help low-income Americans build credit records, part of a new frontier of the war on poverty that has attracted a crazy-quilt coalition of supporters that include major banks, immigrant activists and academic researchers.
For many years, I studied the experiences of mothers whose children were enrolled in New York City childcare centers. My team and I interviewed rich and poor mothers, blacks, whites, Asians, and Latinas, extroverts and introverts and everything in between. We visited centers, participated in parent-teacher events, and fielded large-scale surveys. We found that, because of the way their centers were structured, many mothers built strong, meaningful social connections that challenged the notion that we are doomed to social isolation.
Image c/o Atlanta Blackstar
Irvington, N.J., has stepped out in the forefront of efforts to save the homes of many of its residents, announcing on Saturday that it will use eminent domain to buy mortgages in foreclosure so that residents can stay in their homes.
A New Jersey town is exploring a radical approach to helping homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages, indicating that the solution that began in California may be spreading to other blighted cities.
How should Irvington, NJ and other towns respond to the foreclosure crisis and protect residents from further community destabilization brought on by the toxic mortgages? The answer proposed here by Wayne Smith, mayor of Irvington, and Udi Ofer, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey: eminent domain.

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We are witnessing a nationwide return of concentrated poverty that is racial in nature. This report finds that high-poverty ghettos and barrios are the inevitable and predictable consequences of deliberate policy choices.
Repeated exposure to traumatic events during childhood can have dramatic and long-lasting effects. During the past 20 years, there has been an enormous increase in our understanding of how being repeatedly traumatized by violence affects the growth and development of preadolescent children, especially when such traumatized children lack a nurturing and protective parental figure that might mitigate the impact of the trauma. In this paper, the author summarizes the current understanding of the effects of ongoing trauma on young children, how these effects impair adolescent and young adult functioning, and the possible implications of this for policing.
New evidence on the impacts of MTO on children’s long-term outcomes, including improved college attendance rates and earnings.
The authors characterize the effects of neighborhoods on children’s earnings and other outcomes in adulthood by studying more than five million families who move across counties in the U.S. They find that growing up in a one SD better county from birth increases a child’s income by approximately 10%. Low-income children are most likely to succeed in counties that have less concentrated poverty, less income inequality, better schools, a larger share of two-parent families, and lower crime rates. Boys’ outcomes vary more across areas than girls, and boys have especially poor outcomes in highly-segregated areas. In urban areas, better areas have higher house prices, but our analysis uncovers significant variation in neighborhood quality even conditional on prices.
Equity and access to opportunity are critical underpinnings of TOGETHER North Jersey’s Regional Plan for Sustainable Development. Therefore, the planning process includes the preparation of this assessment of Fair Housing and Equity in the Northern New Jersey region. As part of the process to develop a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD) for the TOGETHER North Jersey planning region, the TNJ Project Team worked with the TOGETHER North Jersey Steering Committee and Standing Committees to conduct a Fair Housing and Equity Assessment (FHEA) for the region, resulting in this report.
CLiME Fellow Sarah Fletcher examines the state of fair housing in New Jersey, providing a historical context for the formation of COAH (the Council on Affordable Housing) and an analysis of its administration of the law. Despite over forty years of policy reform to address racial and economic segregation in New Jersey, this paper argues that the state has consistently failed to enforce the law. Concluding with an analysis of how other states have approached fair housing, it offers specific recommendations to implement the Mount Laurel Doctrine. Written just prior to New Jersey's recent decision to re-dedicate the fair share process from COAH to the judiciary, Fletcher's analysis may be a guide to future litigation.
Over the last three years, St. Louis County municipalities have chronically violated the constitutional rights of indigent citizens by issuing unreasonable amounts of traffic tickets – tickets accompanied by slews of hefty fines and court costs. When indigent citizens are unable to pay the aforementioned, they are thrown in jail for extended periods of time. Civil rights groups allege that these practices, which are performed solely as a means of funding municipal endeavors, have created the functional equivalent of debtor prisons. This report by CLiME analyzes the extent to which northern and central New Jersey municipalities have deployed similar tactics as those in St. Louis County.
This report proposes an educational and policy agenda that will enable schools to become supportive environments in which traumatized children can focus, behave appropriately, and learn.
No doubt, private prejudice and suburbanites’ desire for homogenous affluent environments contributed to segregation in St. Louis and other metropolitan areas. But these explanations are too partial, and too conveniently excuse public policy from responsibility. A more powerful cause of metropolitan segregation in St. Louis and nationwide has been the explicit intents of federal, state, and local governments to create racially segregated metropolises.
This document presents the methodology for calculating and allocating regional prospective housing need for 1999-2024 to New Jersey’s 565 municipalities, and then calculating the Net Prospective component of each municipality’s fair share housing obligation. It also provides the results of these calculations for all municipalities, calculating their Net Prospective Need for 1999-2024 using the Prior Round (1987-1999) methodology.

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