The Yale Law Journal

Housing Law


Churching NIMBYs: Creating Affordable Housing on Church Property

Patrick E. Reidy, C.S.C.

Faith communities across the United States are creating affordable housing on church property. Where sincerely held religious belief inspires their efforts, faith communities can assert religious liberty protections against land-use decisions that obstruct denser, multifamily developments. Legislati…


Familial-Status Discrimination: A New Frontier in Fair Housing Act Litigation

Rubin Danberg Biggs & Patrick Holland

A key exception to the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of familial-status discrimination has allowed municipalities to weaponize senior-only housing to block the construction of affordable housing and perpetuate segregation. This Note documents this practice, offers a framework for advocates to chall…


Can Affordable Housing Be a Safety Net? Lessons from a Pandemic

Noah M. Kazis

COVID-19 posed an unprecedented challenge to housing stability. This Essay argues that the pandemic exposed the mismatch of affordable-housing programs (including housing voucher programs, tax credits, and emergency rental assistance) to short-term crises, whether personal or nationwide. Yet the pan…


A Federal Builder’s Remedy for Exclusionary Zoning

Eric E. Stern

This Note argues that when a local zoning body blocks construction of low-income housing in order to exclude the poor, courts should provide a constitutional remedy. After articulating a doctrinal path through the Due Process Clause, this Note makes the normative case for this “builder’s remedy” for…


Pushed Out and Locked In: The Catch-22 for New York’s Disabled, Homeless Sex-Offender Registrants

Allison Frankel

New York’s poor, disabled sex-offender registrants are ensnared in a cruel catch-22: New York will not release them from prison without housing, but laws and policies make finding housing nearly impossible for this population. This Essay explores potential legal challenges to New York’s harmful, cou…


Zoned Out: How Zoning Law Undermines Family Law’s Functional Turn

Kate Redburn

A fatal conflict in the legal definition of family lurks at the intersection of family law and zoning law. Family law has increasingly embraced “functional families,” those whose bonds can be traced to cohabitation, while zoning law has narrowed to restrict residency to individuals related by blood,…


Evicted: The Socio-Legal Case for the Right to Housing

Lisa T. Alexander

Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is a triumphant work that provides the missing socio-legal data needed to prove why America should recognize housing as a human right. Desmond’s masterful study of the effect of evictions on Milwaukee’s urban poor in the wake of the …


Legal Responses to the Crisis of Forced Moves Illustrated in Evicted

Laurie Ball Cooper

Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City combines compelling narratives that illustrate many of the barriers to housing for individuals in poverty with quantitative data that speaks to the scope of the housing crisis in urban America. This Essay addresses what may be a lawy…


Exploiting the Poor: Housing, Markets, and Vulnerability

Ezra Rosser

Matthew Desmond’s magisterial Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is arguably the most important book about poverty in the United States in a generation. Just as Michael Harrington’s The Other America provided the country with a necessary window onto the poverty lurking below the surfac…


In Defense of “Free Houses”

Megan Wachspress, Jessie Agatstein & Christian Mott

Eight years after the start of America’s housing crisis, state courts are increasingly confronting an unanticipated consequence: what happens when a bank brings a foreclosure suit and loses? Well-established legal principles seem to provide a clear answer: the homeowner keeps her…


"We Don't Follow, We Lead": How New York City Will Save Mortgage Loans by Condemning Them

Robert Hockett

Introduction1 Many cities across the nation have begun to consider exercising their eminent domain authority to purchase, then write-down principal on, otherwise unmodifiable home mortgage loans facing foreclosure.2 I and several others have advocated this method and cognate uses of gover…


Sheltering Deprivations: FEMA, Section 408 Housing, and Procedural Redesign

Damian Williams

116 Yale L.J. 1883 (2007).


Tenant Screening Thirty Years Later: A Statutory Proposal To Protect Public Records

Rudy Kleysteuber

116 Yale L.J. 1344 (2007)

Most consumers learn about tenant-screening reports only when a landlord points to an item on such a report as the reason for rejecting an application and provides the tenant with a copy of that report as required by law. Legal scholars have criticized these reports for mo…


Living History: How Homeowners in a New Local Historic District Negotiate Their Legal Obligations

Tad Heuer

116 Yale L.J. 768 (2007)

American historic preservationists are increasingly emphasizing the need to preserve not only prominent landmarks, but also the vernacular architectural culture of "ordinary neighborhoods." Preserving such neighborhoods often requires convincing homeowners to agree to legal r…


Unpacking the Household: Informal Property Rights Around the Hearth

Robert C. Ellickson

As Aristotle recognized in The Politics, the household is an indispensable building block of social, economic, and political life. A liberal society grants its citizens far wider berth to arrange their households than to choose their familial and marital relationships. Legal commentators, however, h…


The Creation of Homeownership: How New Deal Changes in Banking Regulation Simultaneously Made Homeownership Accessible to Whites and Out of Reach for Blacks

Adam Gordon

115 Yale L.J. 186 (2005)

The Federal Government, in creating the section 203(b) mortgage insurance program during the New Deal, transformed homeownership in America into the main way that middle-class households build wealth. In the first three decades of the program's existence, however, this wealth…


The Political Economy of School Choice

James E. Ryan & Michael Heise

111 Yale L.J. 2043 (2002)

This Article examines the political economy of school choice and focuses on the role of suburbanites. This group has re- ceived little attention in the commentary but is probably the most important and powerful stakeholder in choice debates. Suburbanites generally do not sup…