Posts Tagged ‘housing discrimination’

HUD’s Carson to localities: stop throttling housing availability

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is pressing local governments to ease barriers to housing construction, which might turn out to be a genuinely progressive stance in a period in which housing costs are soaring in many in-demand cities, led by the West Coast. One reason for HUD to take notice of these local barriers to building is that by artificially driving up rents and construction costs, they drive up the cost of HUD’s own programs: “the most-restrictively zoned states receive nearly twice the federal dollars per capita compared to the least-restrictively zoned states…Determining whether attaching requirements to grants is a constitutionally-sound strategy is best decided by a legal expert. However, Carson’s new focus on educating policy makers on the damaging consequences of local policy, while acknowledging HUD cannot overcome local problems by spending money, is a welcome change.” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato]

More/related: Tyler Cowen (on New York Times coverage), Elijah Chiland, Curbed L.A., and Ilya Somin on introduction of bill by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., to discourage exclusionary zoning by attaching strings to the (itself highly dubious) $3.3 billion federal Community Development Block Grant program.

July 5 roundup

April 19 roundup

  • “Crash survivor sues publisher, claims he was exploited by book’s false claim of visit to heaven” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal on William Alexander “Alex” Malarkey claim against Tyndale House Publishers] More: Lowering the Bar;
  • Attorney-client privilege and the raid on Trump lawyer Michael Cohen: my Saturday chat with Yuripzy Morgan of Baltimore’s WBAL radio [listen] On the same general subject, Clark Neily chats with Caleb Brown for the Cato Daily Podcast, and Ken at Popehat has a Stormy Daniels/Michael Cohen civil litigation lawsplainer;
  • “While there were many problems with the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, one thing the Republican-led Congress got absolutely right was defunding Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” [Robert Romano, Daily Torch, earlier on AFFH]
  • “The nearest Macy’s department store is several thousand miles away” but a small hair salon in Scotland will need to change its similar name or face lawyers’ wrath [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
  • Facebook sued for allegedly allowing housing discrimination by way of ad targeting [autoplays] [Seth Fiegerman, CNN Money]
  • Beverage equivalent of clear backpacks: South Carolina bill would make it a crime to let teenagers consume energy drinks [Jacob Sullum]

Update: court strikes down Seattle landlords-must-accept-first-tenant law

A Washington court has struck down Seattle’s new law requiring landlords to rent to the first qualified tenant-applicant who applies, supposedly as a way of countering unconscious or implicit bias. Judge Suzanne Parisien

said the law violated property rights by stripping landlords of their ability to “freely dispose of property” and to choose their own tenant, a “fundamental attribute of property ownership.”

The judge also concluded the law violated landlords’ due process rights by imposing the rule without limitation. “A law that undertakes to abolish or limit the exercise of rights beyond what is necessary to provide for the public welfare cannot be included in the lawful police power of the government,” she wrote.

Finally, the judge said the law violated the First Amendment by broadly banning certain types of advertising by property owners absent individualized suspicion of discrimination. [David Kroman, Crosscut, earlier] More: Ilya Somin.

Lawsuit challenges Methodist resort’s “church attenders only” bylaws

Bay View, Michigan, is one of many Methodist-founded resorts from the Chautauqua tradition, among the better-known of which are the ones at Ocean Grove, N.J. and Chautauqua, N.Y. Now it is the target of an ACLU-backed lawsuit claiming that its bylaws, which permit only “practicing Christians” to own property, are unlawful. One of the claims in the lawsuit is that Michigan cannot properly under the First Amendment delegate certain public services, like those of a police force, to the association within its boundaries. But (I’m quoted as saying) as recently as 2002 a court ruled that it was not improper for a Christian college in Michigan to have police powers delegated to it for campus security, even though the college, like Bay View, was under bylaws requiring that it be controlled by religious believers. A second claim in the lawsuit, invoking the federal Fair Housing Act, may have a clearer path forward, because courts have been inclined to read narrowly rights of autonomy of religious institutions, especially entities like Bay View that are not as closely tied to church functions as those of, say, a monastic retreat might be. Tracy Schorn, DC_Bar]

My parting shot: “Certainly, Bay View is out of step with modern sentiment, and I can’t predict to what extent the courts will tolerate that. I will say this, however: If the courts turn Bay View into just another secular homeowner’s association, the result will be not more but less diversity overall in Michigan and in resort options.” [

Housing roundup

  • “The Rent is Too High and the Commute is Too Long: We Need Market Urbanism” [Andrew Criscione, Market Urbanism] Is excessive regulation making it costly to build starter homes? Ask the New York Times [Ira Stoll]
  • Good: Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Paul Gosar have introduced a bill to eliminate outright the Obama administration’s meddlesome AFFH (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing) rule [Vanessa Brown Calder, earlier]
  • “Dollar home” programs show mostly sparse results in urban revitalization, especially when regulatory strings come attached [Jared Alves, Greater Greater Washington]
  • Too radical to pass? Bill 827 in California would impose upzoning on transit corridors [Ilya Somin] California wildfires will worsen Bay Area housing shortage, but where’d that shortage come from? [Enrico Moretti, NYT] “Why Does Land-Use Regulation (Still) Matter in Oregon?” [Calder, Cato]
  • New from NBER: “Rent Control Raises Housing Costs” [Charles Hughes, Economics21] Study “provides strong evidence of rent control’s damaging effects” [Calder]
  • “Blockchain technology can empower public and private efforts to register property rights on a single computer platform,” with particular benefits for poorer societies in which property rights remain ill-defined [Phil Gramm and Hernando de Soto, WSJ/AEI, Arnold Kling] “The U.S. property title system is a disgrace. It could be fixed with blockchain. But it also could be fixed without blockchain.” [Kling]

Challenge to Seattle law banning choice of tenants

“In Yim v. City of Seattle, PLF is challenging an anti-discrimination law that prohibits landlords from choosing their own tenants. Today, we filed our opening brief to ask the Court to invalidate this oppressive and brazen violation of fundamental rights. Under Seattle’s ‘first-in-time’ rule, a landlord must offer a rental unit to the first person who submits an adequate application.” [Ethan Blevins, Pacific Legal Foundation, earlier on Seattle law purporting to require landlords to rent to first qualified tenant who applies] The law has been rationalized in part as a way to restrict the operation of “unconscious” bias. “The Seattle law illustrates an important downside of trying to use government regulation to offset the subconscious cognitive biases of the private sector: there is little, if any reason to believe that voters and politicians are less biased than the people whose behavior they are trying to regulate. Much of the time, they are likely to be more so.” [Ilya Somin]

January 10 roundup

December 6 roundup

  • Torts class hypotheticals come to life: tipsy axe-throwing, discussed in this space last June, is coming to D.C. [Jessica Sidman, Washingtonian] One guess why Japanese “slippery stairs” game show might not translate easily to Land O’ Lawyers [Dan McLaughlin on Twitter]
  • “California lawyer pleads guilty in $50M visa scam” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal]
  • Claim: longstanding practice in Louisiana and Oregon of not requiring jury unanimity for felony convictions reflects states’ racial past [Angela A. Allen-Bell, Washington Post]
  • “Judge Halts Copyright Troll’s Lawsuit Against A Now-Deceased Elderly Man With Dementia And An IP Address” [Timothy Geigner]
  • David Henderson reviews Richard Rothstein book on history of federal encouragement of housing segregation, The Color of Law [Cato Regulation magazine]
  • Class action: sellers of cold-pressed juice should have disclosed that it was high-pressure-processed [Elaine Watson, Food Navigator USA]

July 5 roundup

  • Court order (arising from federal demand for information on three accounts) forbids Facebook “from communicating the existence of the warrants to its users” [Paul Alan Levy]
  • “The great intellectual property trade-off”: brief guide to IP by economist Tim Harford [BBC]
  • Eye-opening if dogmatic history of how federal government and other institutions connived at residential segregation [David Oshinsky in N.Y. Times reviewing Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law]
  • About those “do not remove under penalty of law” mattress tags [Now I Know]
  • What comes after a Congressional Review Act (CRA) repeal of a regulation? [Sam Batkins and Adam White, Cato Regulation magazine]
  • Estate tax, DC Metro, bogus search-engine takedown suits, and kudos for a Democrat in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]