Mount Laurel I was a response to people being kicked out of their original places of residence, and relocated to under developed areas. It was a response to those people then being excluded from living in the Planned Unit Developments, which were made to attract predominately white upper and middle class families. Mount Laurel I concluded that municipalities must provide a variety of housing choices to all classes. When municipalities chose not to implement Mount Laurel I, Mount Laurel II was more specific in its instructions. Mount Laurel II required that all of New Jersey provide their “fair share” of low and moderate income housing. It also required that municipalities provide proof of how their zoning would implement this fair share housing.
Anything that serves as a need for survival and is not granted due to some form of exclusion is a civil right. Shelter is something that is needed to survive, therefore it shouldn’t be something that people are privileged to have or have to earn–yet it is because of economic discrimination.
Housing is a civil right because people have been denied of it or somehow it hasn’t been provided. It shouldn’t be, but it is. This may sound weird and maybe out of context, considering civil rights are what “guarantees equal social opportunities” regardless of what can be used as a discriminatory factor. The question is, why must something as necessary as housing include a matter of equal opportunity?
Civil rights cases have addressed forms of injustices normally stemming from things that cannot be changed about a person, such as the color of their skin, sexual orientation, and financial stability. The Mount Laurel Doctrine held municipalities accountable for denying people housing based of what they could and could not afford.
Sounds pretty civil to me. No, everyone may not be able to live as luxurious as others, but all housing should provide people with the basic means to be comfortable—specifically in places in which they wish to reside.
By Kendra Key