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.

Continue reading 


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.

Continue reading

* Jerome B. Sherman Professor of Law, Columbia Law School. J.D., 1995, Stanford Law School; B.A., 1989, Yale University.
For helpful research assistance, I am grateful to Amelie Hopkins and Alexander Perry. Many thanks to Jessica Bulman-Pozen, Lance Freeman, Richard Sander, Serena M. Williams, and participants at the University of Richmond School of Law Symposium and the faculty workshop at Columbia Law School for their helpful comments and suggestions.


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.

Continue reading 

*Professor of Law, UCLA, and Director, UCLA-RAND Center for Law and Public Policy. Ph.D. (economics), Northwestern University, 1990; J.D., Northwestern University, 1988; B.A., Harvard University, 1978.


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.

Continue reading

* Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the John Marshall Law School’s Fair Housing Legal Clinic, Chicago, Illinois. J.D., University of Florida; B.S., Northwestern University. Prior to joining JMLS in 2008, the author served as Director of Civil Rights for the Florida Attorney General’s office and litigated fair housing cases on behalf of the state. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s office, the author worked in private practice as a civil trial lawyer and defending fair housing cases.
The author gratefully acknowledges the support of John Marshall colleagues Professor Debra Stark, mentors Professors Michael P. Seng and F. Willis Caruso, Raizel Liebler, Head of Faculty Scholarship Initiatives, and research assistant Benjamin Lee.

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.

Continue reading


* Associate Professor of Law, Howard University School of Law. J.D., 2006, George Washington University Law School; B.A., 1998, University of Pennsylvania.
The author expresses gratitude to Dean Holley-Walker and the Howard University School of Law, which funded her research through a summer stipend, and to the individual members of the Howard University School of Law faculty who provided feedback in the early stages of drafting. Additionally, the author would like to thank Professor Carol Brown and the University of Richmond Law Review for putting together a thought-provoking symposium on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Finally, the author thanks her excellent research assistant, Candace Caruthers, for her thorough and thoughtful work.

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.

Continue reading

* Deputy Director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (“PRRAC”), a civil rights policy organization based in the District of Columbia. J.D. 2008, Columbia Law School.
** Executive Director of PRRAC. J.D., 1982, Columbia Law School.
The authors are grateful for the helpful input they received from Nestor Davidson, Olatunde Johnson, Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, and Elizabeth DeBray, and the support of the Ford Foundation, the Intercultural Development Research Association, and the National Education Association for PRRAC’s recent work connecting housing and school integration policy.