The Mount Laurel cases were lawsuits in response to the actions against low-income residents in the state of New Jersey. New Jersey had attempted to tear down a low-income community in order to build a more modern housing complex.
Of course, this would mean that a lot of low-income families would not be able to afford the new housing. Mount Laurel I ensured that there would be affordable housing for the families in need of low-income housing. This is why the courts ruled in favor for the municipality to rebuild. However, after the complexes were built, there were complaints that the facilities were too small for the families. Also, the units were not as affordable as citizens thought they would be. Resudebts filed another lawsuit in 1983 called Mount Laurel II. This suit resulted in a ruling that said low-income families have a “realistic opportunity” to live in these spaces. The case prohibited economic discrimination.
Taken together, these cases can be classified a civil rights case because you are literally taking away civil liberties that these families worked hard for, such as taking their homes and replacing them with housing that they cannot afford, and forcing them to leave to find something they can afford. That could possibly ruin people’s lives because forcing someone to leave their community could make it harder to get to work and then on top of that looking for a new home could be a struggle, and may even cause someone to lose their job, which makes it ten timesharder to find a new home.
But I do not believe that housing is a civil right because being able to acquire a job to pay for housing should be the civil right. I believe everyone should be housed, of course, but these houses need to be paid for. A civil right usually regards something that should be free and equal for everyone such as the right to free speech. However, if you are a hard-working citizen, no matter if you are a CEO of a company or a minimum wage earning employee at McDonald’s, you should be able to own a home. Also, if you are a hard-working citizen that cannot afford a home, states should make more of an effort to help those people out because they are getting the short end of the stick and losing faith in the system.
By Tyler Jarrett