Acknowledgements

Carly M. Celestine – Symposium Editor, Volume 53

The University of Richmond Law Review is incredibly excited to present its 2019 Symposium Issue: The 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act–Past, Present, and Future . Each year, the Law Review hosts a Symposium which seeks to critically examine and debate a specific area of law. This year, we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”). We were honored to host an outstanding assembly of scholars and practitioners to re- flect on the social and legal precursors to the FHA, evaluate its impact to date, and anticipate the role of the Act in providing equal access to housing in the future

Read more

Unjust Cities? Gentrification, Integration, and the Fair Housing Act

Olatunde C.A. Johnson* 

What does gentrification mean for fair housing? This article considers the possibility that gentrification should be celebrated as a form of integration alongside a darker narrative that sees gentrification as necessarily unstable and leading to inequality or displacement of lower-income, predominantly of color, residents. Given evidence of both possibilities, this article considers how the Fair Housing Act might be deployed to minimize gentrification’s harms while harnessing some of the benefits that might attend integration and movement of higher-income residents to cities. Ultimately, the article urges building on the fair housing approach but employing a broader set of tools to advance a more robust form of integration. This broader framework would attend to how public and private goods are distributed in gentrifying cities, and build governance and participation mechanisms that enhance the voice and participation of traditionally excluded groups.

Read more

The Opportunity and the Danger of the New Urban Migration

Richard Sander* 

Twenty-first century America is witnessing a broad and unprecedented migration of middle and upper-middle class families to old, dense, and often low-income urban neighborhoods. This “new urban migration” has the potential to create wholly gentrified neighborhoods that displace existing residents, or to engender racially and economically integrated neighborhoods that strengthen both neighborhoods and central cities. I argue that valuable lessons can be learned from the 1970s, when another large intraurban migration—the vast metropolitan movement of black households into white neighborhoods that followed passage of the Fair Housing Act—produced patterns of resegregation in many cities, but genuine housing integration in others. We now understand what conditions in the 1970s produced resegregative or integrative outcomes. I show that so far, the new urban migration has mostly fostered integration, but that careful, proactive policies that help to disperse this migration can make good long-term outcomes much more likely.

Read more

A New Home for Haters – Online Home Sharing Platforms: A Look at the Applicability of the Fair Housing Act to Home Shares

Allison K. Bethel*

In 2018, we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Fair Housing Act which outlawed discrimination in residential transactions. When the FHA was passed, the home search process was very different. Fifty years ago, most people searched for housing by viewing listings in newspapers and other printed publications or perhaps used a realtor. Today, most people use the internet to search for housing. Home sharing, where all or part of a home is rented on a short-term basis, has become very popular since 2008 when Airbnb entered the market. It has become a multimillion dollar business and proponents see great potential in it to ease housing and income shortages. As home sharing has grown in popularity, racism has reared its ugly head and reports of dis- crimination against minority guests have become all too frequent. Complaints of housing providers refusing to rent based on the race, sexual orientation, religion, or other protected characteristics of prospective guests have gained widespread attention through social media and threaten to undermine the future of the concept.

Read more

Racism Knocking at the Door: The Use of Criminal Background Checks in Rental Housing

Valerie Schneider*

One of the harshest collateral consequences of an arrest or conviction is the impact a criminal record can have on one’s ability to secure housing. Because racial bias permeates every aspect of the criminal justice system as well as the housing market, this collat- eral consequence—the inability to find a place to live after an arrest or conviction—disproportionately affects minorities.

In 2016, after decades of appearing to encourage local public housing providers to adopt harsh policies barring applicants with criminal records, the Office of General Counsel for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) issued guidance instructing public and private housing providers to take in to account the potentially disparate effects of such policies on racial minorities (the “HUD Guidance”). Recognizing that African Americans and Latinos are “arrested, convicted and in- carcerated at rates disproportionate to their share of the general population,” HUD advised that any policy that “restricts access to housing on the basis of criminal history” may have an unlawful disparate impact based on race.

The HUD Guidance on the potentially disparate impact of the use of criminal background checks has remained in place, though it is expected to be rolled back like many other Obama-era policies; thus, the question has now become how municipalities and housing providers will interpret and give effect to the HUD Guidance. This article examines how one such municipality—the District of Columbia—has grappled with putting the HUD Guidance into effect via legislative changes.

Read more

Coordinated Action on School and Housing Integration: The Role of State Government

Megan Haberle* & Philip Tegeler**

In this essay, we assess the prospects for more coordinated government efforts to address housing and school segregation at the federal, state and local level. We conclude that multiple barriers to concerted action at the federal and local level, particularly to addressing racial and economic segregation across local boundaries, suggest a more central role for state governments than has previously been the case. State-level laws and programs can succeed as drivers of integration in a way that is distinct from either federal or local interventions, because of the state’s direct control over the key policies that drive modern school and housing segregation.

Read more

Affordable Housing: Of Inefficiency, Market Distortion, and Government Failure

Michael Diamond*

In this essay, I examine the types of costs that are imposed on society as a whole due to the absence of a sufficient number of decent housing units that are affordable to the low-income population. These costs present themselves in relation to health care, education, employment, productivity, homelessness, and incarceration. Some of the costs are direct expenditures while others are the result of lost opportunities.

My hypothesis is that these costs are significant and offer, at the very least, a substantial offset to the cost of creating and subsidizing the operation of the necessary number of affordable housing units that are currently missing. I suggest a series of reasons why, in the face of this potentially inefficient outcome, the market/society does not produce the required units.

The essay is conceptual in nature, not empirical. I recognize the issues associated with the quantification of often opaque costs and with their causal relationship to the lack of affordable housing. It is clear, however, that the costs are sizable and the correlations are strong and therefore, I believe, the hypothesis requires empirical study.

Read more

Fifty Years of Fair Housing: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future

The Hon. L. Douglas Wilder*

I think sometimes you need to wonder where we were in 1968. It wasn’t just the Fair Housing Act that was passed in 1968. What happened in 1968? George Wallace was running for presi- dent. Hubert Humphrey was running for president, and Richard Nixon as well. It wasn’t just the assassination of Dr. King, we al- so had the assassination of Robert Kennedy. We likewise had the Vietnam War, and America was a mess. We had something else occurring in 1968. That was the Kerner Commission Report, that Dr. Crutcher mentioned had been instrumental in the fair hous- ing bill. And they made recommendations. I happened to have been a part of that last month in Minnesota, and had great occa- sion to talk with Fred Harris, who was the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission, Senator from Oklahoma. And also, Walter Mondale and I had a long time to talk.

Read more

Fair Housing Act at Fifty

Sara Pratt* 

I am a Virginian by birth; I grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia. You may be asking yourself how a civil rights advocate grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia. Living in Virginia provided formative experiences for me that brought me to a fair housing-oriented life, and career. I started out learning about civil rights in a Presbyterian youth camp, on the campus of Hampden-Sydney College. I was in high school and we were studying Will Campbell’s book, Race and the Renewal of the Church . And they brought over two young black students from Prince Edward County who had never been to public schools.

Read more

Housing Supply and the Common Wealth

The Rev. Benjamin P. Campbell * 

It’s a powerful thing to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, something that actually happened and has actually had an effect. I grew up in segregated Virginia, so I have a pretty powerful sense of the passage of time here. It’s given us the opportunity today to review and mark human progress, to take stock of where we are and to identify the efforts and issues of our time. The victories here have changed the nation, and the task is still daunting.

Read more
css.php