Right to Housing Litigation
Housing affordability is one of, if not the most, significant domestic policy issues of our time.
New York has long been a leader on issues of housing affordability. In 2017, it passed a law that provides a lawyer to deeply impoverished tenants facing eviction. We know that when tenants have lawyers, their housing has a greater chance of being saved than when they do not.
In this clinic, students use legal strategies to assist clients facing housing related issues, including:
combating tenant harassment and discrimination,
and assisting tenant organizations in the movement to preserve affordable housing in New York City.
In a typical year, landlords file 3.6 million eviction cases. The vast majority of which are for non-payment of rent. In 2020, an average of almost 600,000 people experienced homelessness on any given night. 171,000 of which were families with children. And these numbers disguise those who are in tenuous housing situations like surfing on couches. These folks lack the resources to be safely and securely housed.
Last year, the United States Attorney General, Merrick Garland, called on law schools to train more students to do the work of representing tenants seeking to avoid eviction and preserve their housing while those students are in law school. Fordham Law had already been working in the housing affordability space for years through its Housing Justice Initiative, which puts housing related doctrinal courses, externships, student groups and centers under one tent. Fordham’s housing clinic will focus on tenant defense and deep community engagement in the geographic area surrounding our Rose Hill campus in the Bronx and with our Lincoln Center neighbors. By adding the clinic, Fordham has doubled down on training a new generation of housing lawyers. I am thrilled to be teaching Fordham’s students not only how to litigate and advocate but how to do so in the context of the public good and in service to the local and national movements to make housing a right.
Professor Hayat is an award winning housing advocate, and joined the full-time faculty in the fall. Hayat comes to Fordham from Rutgers where she taught courses in Property Law, Critical Race Theory. and Landlord Tenant Law. There, she also served as director of the Civil Justice Clinic, and as advisor to the African and Black Law Students Association and the Newark Housing Rights Coalition.