Just, Smart: Civil Rights Protections and Market-Sensitive Vacant Property Strategies

By James J. Kelly, Jr. for the Center for Community Progress


Part I of this paper will explore four primary areas of civil rights protection: the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under state and local laws; the Fair Housing Act’s ban on discrimination in the area of access to housing; Reconstruction-era prohibitions on discrimination with regard to property rights; and requirements that state and local government recipients of federal funding eliminate discrimination and promote equality. Part II will review the civil rights vulnerabilities of code enforcement and land banking strategies that manage properties differently based on the neighborhood market context in which they are located. Based on the conclusions reached in the first part, the recommendations of the second part will be shaped strongly by two aspects of Fair Housing Act enforcement: first, the relevance of disparate impact evidence to a legal claim that a local government is making dwellings unavailable to persons of color and, second, the obligations of local HUD fund recipients to affirmatively further fair housing in their communities.


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This report is a publication of the Center for Community Progress. Do not upload the report itself to any other public website or forum without written permission of Center for Community Progress. For additional information or to request such permission, contact Chelsea Allinger at callinger@communityprogress.net.