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2004 July - August

Community Service Requirements for Public Housing Residents

States' Implementation and Strategies for Advocates

By Judith Goldiner & Risa E. Kaufman

Local housing authorities are implementing in different ways the new community service requirement for public housing residents. Some authorities' plans do not meet minimum federal requirements. Understanding the federally mandated procedural protections and baseline exemptions and getting familiar with several housing authorities' implementation plans will help advocates represent the interests of those public housing residents for whom compliance is difficult or even impossible.

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The Case or Controversy Requirement and Other Preliminary Hurdles

By Jeffrey S. Gutman & Peyton Whiteley

The U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court impose limits on the pursuit of federal litigation. Both standing and mootness doctrines stem from Article III's case and controversy requirement. The law of standing asks whether the plaintiff suffered or was threatened with injury in fact when filing the complaint; the law of mootness asks whether events after the filing of suit eliminated the controversy between the parties. The Supreme Court has established a three-part test for standing and rules regarding associational and third-party standing. Occasionally exhaustion of administrative remedies is required and, if pursued, may have preclusive effect.

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Federal Court Jurisdiction

By Greg Bass & Aaron Cooper

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. The Constitution establishes the potential scope of federal subject-matter jurisdiction, and Congress defines the actual range of that jurisdiction. The federal question jurisdiction statute (the principal basis of jurisdiction against the federal government) and diversity jurisdiction, supplemental jurisdiction, and removal jurisdiction statutes vest courts with jurisdiction. In very limited circumstances and under the abstention doctrine, courts may exercise discretion to decline jurisdiction.

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Navigating the Shoals

Financial Service Strategies for Low-Income Consumers

By Deborah B. Goldberg

Fringe banking poses considerable cost and risk to low-income consumers, yet some consumers find the advantages of the fringe sector compelling and the barriers to mainstream banking difficult to overcome. The drive for profits and ineffective regulatory restraints have led mainstream and fringe institutions alike to exploit vulnerable consumers. Community groups are working to change the marketplace by tackling the regulatory environment and pioneering alternative financial institutions.

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Ensuring Access to Medicaid Benefits and Services in the Face of Standardized Eligibility Criteria

By MaryBeth Musumeci & Sarah Somers

States are seeking ways to curb the cost of Medicaid by changing the standard medical criteria used to determine Medicaid eligibility. Because these changes may violate federal Medicaid law, advocates must be diligent in recognizing state noncompliance. Advocates can use legal strategies and resources to help clients retain their much-needed Medicaid benefits.

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The Human Right to Housing

Making the Case in U.S. Advocacy

By Maria Foscarinis, Brad Paul, Bruce Porter & Andrew Scherer

International human rights law recognizes a right to housing and imposes on governments the obligation to devote the "maximum of available resources" to fulfilling the right. Poverty law advocates in the United States are relying more on international law in work on issues of housing and homelessness and using legislative, litigation, and policy approaches. Although the U.S. government has been reluctant to recognize a right to housing, some courts are applying international human rights law in domestic cases.

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