Exile from Main Street

49 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2019 Last revised: 9 Aug 2019

Date Written: May 21, 2019


There is a growing web of policing-based housing policies that prohibit people who have had contact with the criminal legal system from living in public, subsidized, or private rental housing. Taken together, these policies put stable and affordable housing out of reach for many people who may find themselves excluded from the communities they call home. This web of restrictions is consistent with America’s broader embrace of exile in response to perceived threats and is rapidly expanding against a backdrop of mass criminalization. While individual policing-based housing policies have received some scholarly attention, little has been written about their cumulative impact, and the central role that mass criminalization plays in locking people out of housing. When the full array of restrictions on public and private housing is scrutinized, it becomes clear that stable and affordable housing is put out of reach for many. The desire to punish and exclude has overwhelmed the need to provide housing, opportunity, and second chances. As more municipalities and public housing authorities adopt policing-based housing policies, housing options constrict. As a result, individuals who have contact with the criminal legal system, and their families, are effectively exiled — cast out by society.

This Article examines how the entanglement of policing-based housing policies and the criminal legal system threatens to push already marginalized people further to the edges of society, while also circumscribing the mobility of people of color who have the means and desire to live in integrated spaces. The Article encourages a more holistic analysis of these policies and a de-coupling of the criminal legal system from housing policy to prevent unnecessary burdens on the “right” to housing.

Keywords: housing, race, discrimination, crime-free housing, segregation

Suggested Citation

Archer, Deborah N., Exile from Main Street (May 21, 2019). Harvard Civil Rights- Civil Liberties Law Review (CR-CL), Vol. 55, 2019, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 19-33, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3391678 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3391678

Deborah N. Archer (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

United States

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