4 posts

College Student Homelessness: A Hidden Epidemic

By Chad Klitzman

This Note examines a surprising obstacle for an increasing number of college students: homelessness. After first offering an overview of legislation in the education field dealing specifically with the education of those experiencing homelessness, this Note then offers insights into how and why people experiencing homelessness tackle both the world of higher education and their respective institutions’ capacities to service their needs both in and out of the classroom. This exploration occurs largely through interview testimony conducted by the author. Many institutions lack the resources needed to service all of a students’ needs (food, clothing, etc.). After exploring the malleability of the higher education and social services systems, this Note argues that certain policy changes — legislation, community work, and change at the institutional level — would be beneficial in combatting this growing homelessness epidemic.

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Proxy War: The Role of Recent CEQA Exemptions in Fixing California’s Housing Crisis

By Annelise Bertrand

As California’s housing crisis continues to balloon, legislators are scrambling to identify its root causes and fashion fixes. One major challenge to the state’s housing fix is its existing fix for a different issue: environmental protection. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is one of the strongest state-level environmental statutes in the United States, and mandates that residential projects of a certain scale and potential impact undergo rigorous rounds of public review prior to approval. It also grants a private right of action against a project approval to any anonymous individual, and given the glacial pace of such litigation, the exercise of this right often informally functions as an injunction. Recognizing its defensive potential, prosperous communities have repurposed a law intended to preserve the environment into a weapon of exclusion that preserves property values and views by preventing the construction of new and affordable housing where most needed.

To counteract CEQA abuse in the housing domain, the California legislature has passed three bills that streamline environmental review for projects that reserve a certain portion of units for affordable housing: SB 35, SB 540, and AB 73. This Note examines each bill in turn and, after reviewing their requirements in light of inclusionary housing literature, ultimately argues that the streamlining efforts are unlikely to produce the effects hoped for due to their mismatched incentives and concessions. Finally, the Note concludes with several recommendations for improving future CEQA-based affordable housing initiatives in the Golden State.

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The Starting Point: Structuring Newark’s Land Use Laws at the Outset of Redevelopment to Promote Integration Without Displacement

By Malina Welman

In 2017, New Jersey’s largest municipality, Newark, made history when its city council passed an inclusionary zoning ordinance requiring, in part, that at least twenty percent of new residential projects be set aside for moderate- and low-income households. Acknowledging the surge of development moving down along New Jersey’s Gold Coast, policymakers brought forth this legislation to ensure that, as Newark inevitably redevelops into a more economically prosperous urban center, the city concurrently provide a realistic opportunity to generate affordable housing. By placing affordability at the forefront of its concerns, Newark has thus demonstrated its commitment to equitable growth, but this Note principally argues that in isolation, the inclusionary zoning ordinance is more symbolic than it is effective upon analyzing its terms. Therefore, while a mandatory, city-wide inclusionary zoning program is a necessary first step, true integration in redeveloping cities can only be realized by enacting a combination of anti-displacement and equitable growth regulations tailored to the particular needs of its residents.

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The Role of the Excessive Fines Clause in Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness

By Siobhan Allen

Over the last decade, the United States has seen a dramatic increase in both homelessness and the laws that criminalize it. This Note contends that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is a powerful but underutilized tool available to end the criminalization of homelessness.

Part I reviews the history of civil and criminal punishment of homelessness in the United States and of the Excessive Fines Clause. Part II explores the weaknesses of other Eighth Amendment doctrines in their application to people experiencing homelessness. Part III explores the Excessive Fines Clause as a constitutional protection against civil punishment for people experiencing homelessness. This Part also evaluates what constitutes “excessive” and “fine” within the meaning of the Clause, and how proportionality between perpetrator, action, and the amount of a fine factors into the “excessiveness” analysis. Finally, Part IV discusses the benefits and drawbacks of applying the Excessive Fines Clause in conjunction with other Eighth Amendment doctrines as a constitutional framework for people experiencing homelessness. The Note concludes by arguing that the Excessive Fines Clause should be used as a tool to stop the criminalization of homelessness.

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