Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

Publications

Oakland stands at the center of a perfect storm. The city and surrounding Bay Area region are experiencing extraordinary economic growth, but housing production is not keeping pace with the escalated demands, nor is sufficient housing affordable to many existing residents and the expanding lower-income workforce. The current displacement crisis undermines the health and wellbeing of its residents, and threatens the historic diversity that gives Oakland its strength and vitality.
In a situation echoing the crisis in Flint, Mich., a housing complex’s poor, mostly black residents are being resettled because of high lead and arsenic levels.
Fees and fines are levied on young offenders in every state but have an outsize effect on racial minorities and the poor, creating a two-tiered system of justice.
Whereas many U.S. cities have experienced a post-recession economic revival, the accompanying run-up in housing costs is threatening to undermine this success by pricing workers out of cities, lengthening commutes, and diminishing livability, the report notes. As a result, local officials are turning to inclusionary zoning (IZ) as a way to combat the shortage of housing that is affordable to moderate- and lower-income workers.
The choices that black families make today are inevitably constrained by a legacy of racism that prevented their ancestors from buying quality housing and then passing down wealth that might have allowed today’s generation to move into more stable communities. And even when black households try to cross color boundaries, they are not always met with open arms: Studies have shown that white people prefer to live in communities where there are fewer black people, regardless of their income.
More than 1,200 students, disproportionately black, are arrested under South Carolina's "disturbing schools" law each year, for everything from disobeying a teacher’s order to fighting in the hallway. For many, like Ms. Kenny, it means a first, stinging encounter with the criminal justice system, bringing the stigma of an arrest record and often derailing their schooling — a potential step in what has been described nationally as a pernicious “schools to prison pipeline."
At a time when poverty and economic insecurity remain widespread in the United States, how does a very poor community like the Highlands strengthen its capacity to improve itself? The transformation is a product of a policy that took root in Washington State in the late 1980s, after youth violence had risen precipitously. Policy makers analyzed the problem and recognized the inter-connectedness of issues usually handled separately: child abuse, domestic violence, dropping out of high school, teen pregnancy, youth substance abuse and youth suicide.
With its searing rebuke of the Baltimore Police Department, the Obama administration has added another chapter in an expanding catalog of investigations that reveal systemic patterns of racial bias in police departments around the country. Each of the nearly two dozen investigations conducted by the Justice Department has uncovered widespread patterns of racial bias, use of excessive force, tactical blunders and poor oversight.
Detroit schools have long been in decline academically and financially. But over the past five years, divisive politics and educational ideology and a scramble for money have combined to produced a public education fiasco that is perhaps unparalleled in the United States.

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Though I rather doubt that white Brooklyn renters are all so baldly racist as to straight-up demand no black people be allowed in their building, it doesn't make much difference. The main point is that a neighborhood without blacks is more valuable, and that brings tremendous pressure to bear against blacks getting access to housing wealth.
For the past three years, the author has traveled around the city, talking with New Yorkers as they experience gentrification. There is little consensus on the topic — even the word itself is defined differently by each of us. I've spoken with tenants, activists, lawyers, investors, architects, construction workers, real-estate agents, drug dealers, business owners. Many people occupy several of these spaces at once, a fact that underscores just how quickly this conversation becomes complicated.
Location matters – enormously. If you’re poor and live in the New York area, it’s better to be in Putnam County than in Manhattan or the Bronx. Not only that, the younger you are when you move to Putnam, the better you will do on average. Children who move at earlier ages are less likely to become single parents, more likely to go to college and more likely to earn more.
The new world of publicly funded, privately provided human services opens a new discussion about inequality on two fronts: inequality of spatial access to services, and inequality of quality of services. Whereas when services were publicly provided there were institutional avenues for registering dissatisfaction with access, the introduction of private providers adds a level of distance between potential clients and their governments.
This paper will serve not only to describe and critique the limitations and boundaries of school finance litigation, but to shed light on their costs and imagine ways in which available resources could be better mobilized in pursuit of socioeconomic integration in both classrooms and communities.
More than 11 million Americans have joined the Medicaid rolls since the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into effect, and health officials are searching for ways to contain the costs of caring for them. Some of the most expensive patients have medical conditions that are costly no matter what. But a significant share of them rack up costs for avoidable reasons. Many are afflicted with some combination of poverty, homelessness, mental illness, addiction and past trauma. A patchwork of experiments across the country are trying to better manage these cases.
This empirical account of equity issues uses metro Baltimore, MD and the Camden, NJ region to set forth a broad range of analytical units and their proper assessment tools. In addition to detailed prescriptions about promising strategies, Rusk sets forth the raw materials for understanding and reforming complex state and local governmental arrangements that contribute to persistent inequity.
Faced with a growing crisis of homeowner residents whose properties are “underwater” or already in foreclosure, many cities around the United States have explored the possibility of expediting mortgage principal write-downs through the extraordinary exercise of eminent domain. Several cities in New Jersey are contemplating the use of redevelopment law as the only available local power to stabilize their tax bases and bring relief to homeowners. This legal memorandum explores the threshold question: Can the problem of foreclosure patterns satisfy the requirements of a “blight” designation under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 40A:12A-5? Several statutory criteria may apply. We analyze the most applicable here to determine whether independently or in the aggregate, the existence of mortgage security collective action problems, underwater mortgages, and properties at serious risk of foreclosure give rise to the conditions required for blight designation.
In this article, Genevieve Siegel-Hawley illuminates the challenges and opportunities posed by demographic change in suburban school systems. As expanding student populations stretch the enrollment capacities of existing schools in suburban communities, new schools are built and attendance lines are redrawn. This redistricting process can be used either to foster school diversity or to exacerbate racial isolation. Findings indicate that school officials responsible for the rezoning process failed to embrace the growing diversity of the school system, choosing instead to solidify extreme patterns of racial isolation within high school attendance areas. The segregative impact of the district's new attendance zones may be subject to legal scrutiny, a consequence that could—and should—discourage other school systems from adopting similarly harmful redistricting policies.
Rutgers Law student Charis G. Orzechowski examines transit conditions that discourage commuters entering from high poverty areas for work and the neglected transit needs of low-income citizens in four New Jersey counties. The paper explores whether certain poor, minority and transit-dependent populations are being excluded from traveling within high-growth suburban municipalities that have job opportunities available for people with fewer specialized skills. The analysis uncovers the "spatial mismatch" that harms transit-dependent minorities and suggests a possible violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Irvington, N.J., is moving forward with plans to become the second municipality in the nation to use eminent domain to buy mortgages that are in foreclosure.
Township officials are considering using eminent domain to seize mortgages that are in foreclosure in Irvington. The controversial strategy, dubbed by officials as "friendly condemnations," would allow the township to seize underwater mortgages and restructure them on behalf of homeowners so they can make more affordable payments.
New cities are joining the effort to head off home foreclosures by using a twist on the power of eminent domain, despite threats of financial retaliation from Wall Street and Washington.
President Obama last week sought to turn attention from health care to immigration — in other words, from one racially divisive issue to another.
Barred by the Supreme Court from requiring proof of citizenship for federal elections, Arizona is complying — but setting up a separate registration system for local and state elections that will demand such proof. The state this week joined Kansas in planning for such a two-tiered voting system, which could keep thousands of people from participating in state and local elections, including next year’s critical cycle, when top posts in both states will be on the ballot.
The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed a nearly three-year old appellate decision invalidating COAH's third round rules which based municipal affordable housing requirements on future growth considering statewide need. The Council on Affordable Housing now has five months to come up with new quotas to ensure that towns and cities in New Jersey provide their fair share of low- and moderate-income housing using its former methodology of calculating new quotas.
San Jose now spends one-fifth of its $1.1 billion general fund on pensions and retiree health care, and the amount keeps rising. To free up the money,services have been cut, libraries and community centers closed, the number of city workers trimmed, salaries reduced, and new facilities left unused for lack of staff. From potholes to home burglaries, the city’s problems are growing.
Stacey Calvin plays Scrabble with her three children, Jayde, 6, Jaela, 9, and Jevon, 12, at their apartment in Stone Mountain, Ga. David Walter Banks for The New York Times
A new study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston.
The change in median household income between 2009 and 2011. To ensure accuracy for smaller geographies like municipalities, the annual figures are actually five-year averages. Use the link to this interactive map to explore in change in median income in New Jersey municipalities.

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This study evaluates the methodologies, regulations, and outcomes of NJ's Fair Housing Act's mission to provide an equitable distribution of affordable housing and looks at the following issues: the extent to which NJ met the goals set to provide additional affordable housing units, the distribution of affordable housing, the methodologies used to achieve the state's goal, and the effectiveness of the regulations and methodologies.
This report shows that neighborhoods play an important role in determining a family's prospects of moving up the economic ladder Metropolitan areas where the wealthy and poor live apart have lower mobility than areas where residents are more economically integrated.
In a new report, the Project describes in detail the slightly improved but still desperately inadequate state of New Jersey’s school desegregation. In this related, but narrower, report, co-developed by Professor Orfield’s Civil Rights Project and the Rutgers-Newark Institute on Education Law and Policy, we zero in on a particular aspect of New Jersey’s school segregation—the degree to which it creates enormous headwinds for the state’s poor urban school districts. In effect, the educational success of the school funding litigation is being undermined by the extent to which the poor urban districts are overwhelmingly populated by low-income children of color with vastly greater educational needs than the norm. And they are living in an extraordinary state of isolation, which does not bode well for our state and society.
School segregation in New Jersey today results from residential patterns of urbanization and suburbanization in the state, where minority students largely inhabit urban areas while white students make up the vast majority of suburban students. As New Jersey school district boundaries correspond with their municipalities, distinctly different racial compositions exist for schools in the suburbs versus urban cities. Housing policy that supports integrated communities, both racially and socioeconomically, can ameliorate this underlying cause of school segregation in the state. Other actions that could increase racial balance include regional school district consolidation and additional public school choice options that emphasize desegregation, such as the magnet schools in Montclair, New Jersey.
This paper develops a framework to study the effects of tax expenditures on intergenerational mobility using spatial variation in tax expenditures across the United States. We measure intergenerational mobility at the local (census commuting zone) level based on the correlation between parents’ and children’s earnings. We show that the level of local tax expenditures (as a percentage of AGI) is positively correlated with intergenerational mobility and that this correlation is robust to introducing controls for local area characteristics. To understand the mechanisms driving this correlation, we analyze the largest tax expenditures in greater detail. We find that the level and the progressivity of state income taxes are positively correlated with intergenerational mobility. Mortgage interest deductions are also positively related to intergenerational mobility. Finally, we find significant positive correlations between state EITC policy and intergenerational mobility.

In the Baltimore region, a successful housing mobility program is providing families living in very disadvantaged inner city communities with a new home and a chance for a new life. Minority voucher holders in the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly titled Section 8) have often been limited to living in “voucher submarkets” where racial and economic segregation is high and opportunities are limited.

The community land trust (CLT) movement is young but expanding rapidly. Nearly 20 community land trusts are started every year as either new nonprofits or as programs or subsidiaries of existing organizations. Fueling this proliferation is a dramatic increase in local government investment and involvement. Over the past decade, a growing number of cities and counties have chosen not only to support existing CLTs, but also to start new ones, actively guiding urban development and sponsoring affordable housing initiatives.
This report presents results from the first phase of the latest national Housing Discrimination Study (HDS2000), sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and conducted by the Urban Institute. These results are based on 4,600 paired tests, conducted in 23 metropolitan areas nationwide during the summer and fall of 2000. In a paired test, two individuals—one minority and the other white—pose as otherwise identical homeseekers, and visit real estate or rental agents to inquire about the availability of advertised housing units. This methodology provides direct evidence of differences in the treatment minorities and whites experience when they search for housing.

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