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Weekly Roundup: June 3, 2022


At the Blog

We continued our symposium on Decommodifying Urban Property.

On Tuesday, Jacob Udell, Celeste Hornbach, Oksana Mironov, & Samuel Stein explained how policies that make extractive and predatory housing models less viable are necessary to pave the way for the expansion of social housing programs. As they write, “when the government expands protections against unjust rent increases to a new sector of the housing market, tenants directly benefit; at the same time, rent regulation limits potential income that drives rising prices and outsized profits, causing speculative investors to lose interest in that sector. A similar reaction is likely when the government improves housing code standards and enforcement: tenants’ living standards improve while neglectful landlords are forced to reinvest more rental income back into their buildings, thus limiting the outsized profits that landlords would otherwise generate through minimal maintenance expenses. Housing justice demands bring rental operations back in line with what it actually takes to run decent and affordable rental housing—and thereby temper speculative pressures and excessive rates of return.”

On Thursday, John Whitlow made the case for tenant unions as a form of countervailing power. As he writes, “In the housing context, a law to facilitate countervailing power must be geared toward encouraging tenant participation at the grassroots, building-by-building level, and it must be sufficiently robust so as to check the enormous power of corporate, financialized real estate. In Andrias and Sachs’ framework, such a law would ensure that tenants have a legal right to form tenant unions that are empowered to bargain collectively with landlords over issues like rent levels, evictions, building management, and repairs.”

In LPE Land

A CFP for ClassCrits XIII: Unlocking Inequality: Revisiting the Intersection of Race and Class, taking place Oct. 21-22, 2022 at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Houston, TX. Proposals due June 30, and note the special invitation to junior scholars (i.e., graduate students, aspiring faculty members, or faculty member with less than two years of experience in a full-time position) to submit proposals for works in progress. A senior scholar as well as other scholars will comment upon each work in progress in a small, supportive working session.

On Monday, June 27, the Erasmus School of Law will hold a virtual roundtable discussion on Power and Justice in Global Value Chains, featuring (among others) Benjamin McKean, who has previously explained in these very pages what supply chains can teach us about neoliberalism.