Fair Housing Seminar

This seminar examines the U.S. legal framework enacted for the purpose of ending discrimination and segregation in housing.

A vast research literature documents the ways in which neighborhoods powerfully shape residents’ access to social, political, and economic opportunities and resources. Despite the promise of the Fair Housing Act, the rate of housing discrimination and “steering” remain high, even though some of the most blatant practices have abated. The most recent national study of housing discrimination, by The US Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2000, reported very high levels of discrimination and steering against Black, Latino, Asian and Native American home seekers based on the experience of paired testers (investigators posing as renters or homebuyers) in major metropolitan housing markets. Since then, the nation’s foreclosure crisis triggered the Great Recession, in which nearly 4 million homes a year were foreclosed, and trillions of dollars of household wealth was wiped out. We will consider the role of fair lending, and the reality that for many, the desire to become a homeowner has been so strong, and access to credit unfairly denied, that millions of homebuyers at all income levels took out risky, overpriced loans that resulted in a flood of foreclosures and trillions of dollars in loan losses.

The course will begin with the roots of the Fair Housing Act in the racial segregation and oppression in U.S. social and legal history, and situate the major enactments of federal law FHA within the broader movements for civil rights under law. The second unit will examine the operation of fair housing laws today, at the federal, state and local levels, through judicial, administrative, investigative and legislative processes; and consider the development of fair lending case law and legislation, in relation to the evolving forms of discriminatory practices with respect to housing. The final theme will engage students with critiques and defenses of the present state of the law and the various proposals to strengthen the means of delivering on the national commitments to open housing. Course materials will include cases, statutes, regulations, pleadings, and briefs, framed and augmented by selected readings from history, sociology, political science, and legal theory.

This course is not currently scheduled.
Last offered Spring 2017.

Key to Codes in Course Descriptions
P: Prerequisite
C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course