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How Jim Crow lives on in skewed housing laws

An expert explains how housing laws that allow (or even require) landlords to evict tenants who've had run ins with the justice system are racially biased.
As police open the white door to an apartment, a neighbor opens his door and pokes his head out to see what's happening

Racial discrimination is alive and well in many American neighborhoods half a century after Jim Crow—albeit in less visible, more insidious forms—according to a new article.

In the article in the Michigan Law Review, Deborah Archer, associate professor of clinical law at New York University Law, points to local laws that encourage or require landlords to evict or exclude tenants who have had contact with the criminal legal system as a “critical mechanism for effectuating the new housing segregation.”

While the Fair Housing Act—a section of the landmark 1968 Civil Rights legislation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson—prohibits inequitable treatment on the basis of race and other factors, recent evidence suggests that many in the real estate industry continue to skirt the law. A fall 2019 investigation by Newsday, for example, revealed that real estate agents in Long Island were steering white clients toward predominantly white neighborhoods and people of color toward neighborhoods with higher minority populations and lower incomes.

Those engaged in this kind of racial steering—along with other illegal practices such as predatory lending—risk consequences, but Archer’s article shows how crime-free housing ordinances enable another, equally harmful form of discrimination that’s perfectly legal. Unlike broader, race-based mechanisms of segregation, crime-free housing ordinances are either overlooked or defended as justified on the grounds that they affect only those who have previously committed criminal offenses.

Here, Archer elaborates on the hidden ways in which these ordinances, ostensibly designed to keep communities safe, create barriers for upward mobility and racial integration:

The post How Jim Crow lives on in skewed housing laws appeared first on Futurity.

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