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2003 November - December

Zoning and Land-Use Laws

Tools to Create Housing and Services for Our Clients

By Raun J. Rasmussen

Advocacy in the areas of zoning and land-use policy holds the potential for achieving wide-ranging benefits for low-income communities. Such efforts often become protracted struggles and may involve clashes with politically powerful developers, but they also offer unparalleled opportunities to work cooperatively with clients and community groups. Several states attempt to promote "inclusionary zoning," with varying degrees of success. Federal civil rights laws, including the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, offer further tools, as do environmental laws. At different times advocates for low-income clients may use these approaches to stop developments that will decimate communities and to promote the development of low-income housing.

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Without Photo Identification

Barriers and Strategies

By Sara Simon Tompkins, Tulin Ozdeger & Jeremy Rosen

New security procedures block homeless people and others without photo identification from entering Social Security Administration offices to apply for Supplemental Security Income. A misconception that photo identification is necessary to apply for food stamps keeps many from receiving them. Police officers sometimes arrest homeless people for failure to present identification. Enforcing constitutional rights and regulatory options for verifying identity, helping clients get identification, and advocacy for systemwide corrections enable those without identification documents to access needed resources and vindicate their civil rights.

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Unfair Evictions

Where Fair Housing and Landlord-Tenant Law Intersect

By Geoffrey Heeren

A federal fair housing suit which reveals landlord-tenant discrimination can protect tenants, serve as a community-organizing tool, and bring public attention to prevalent housing problems. However, federal court litigation presents a wealth of demands. Attorneys asserting a fair housing argument in response to an impending state court eviction can expect to encounter federal doctrines on the subject.

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The U.S. Supreme Court's 2002–2003 Decisions on Federal Court Access

By Jane Perkins, Gill Deford, Matthew Diller & Gary F. Smith

In its 2002–2003 term the U.S. Supreme Court issued several opinions of interest to practitioners in legal services. Most significant, the Court upheld the constitutionality of Interest on Lawyers' Trust Account programs and, in a case examining states' sovereign immunity, allowed private individuals to sue for violations of the Family Medical Leave Act. The Court reaffirmed the importance of consistent application of the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment; expanded the concept of standing; made positive references to the class action mechanism; addressed ripeness and supplemental jurisdiction; expanded the scope of federal removal jurisdiction; and considered the jurisdiction of federal magistrate judges.

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