Promoting Economic Justice

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Experts examine how regulators and lawmakers can support low-income communities.

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The United States is experiencing unprecedented economic inequality. 

As the gap between low-income and affluent communities widens, the socioeconomic characteristics of these groups also diverge. Individuals who are low-income are more likely to be people of color, have less education, live in segregated neighborhoods, experience financial exclusion, and interact with law enforcement. As a result, members of low-income communities face overlapping and systemic disadvantages that affect nearly every aspect of life. 

Although regulators and lawmakers throughout the country can address the breadth of issues affecting low-income communities, those that focus on consumer law play a distinct role in promoting economic mobility for individuals from vulnerable communities. Rather than examining issues that are associated with low income, they can address issues such as disparities in credit and debt markets that affect how members of low-income communities attain financial stability and build wealth. 

The Regulatory Review has invited scholars and advocates to discuss the issues affecting low-income communities and the role that regulation can play in promoting economic justice. The Regulatory Review hopes that this series will inspire our readers to consider issues that affect the daily lives of the most vulnerable members of society. 

The contributors to this series are: Zachary Best, Relman Colfax; Kate Dugan, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia; Remington A. Gregg, Airbnb; Stephen F. Hayes, Relman Colfax; Lynn Lu, The City University of New York School of Law; Manisha Padi, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law; and Karuna Patel, Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham University School of Law. 

How Ending Forced Arbitration Advances Economic Justice

March 28, 2022 | Remington A. Gregg, Airbnb

The CFPB can enhance consumers’ access to justice by restoring limits on the use of forced arbitration clauses.

Disparities Arising from Standardized Contracts

March 29, 2022 | Manisha Padi, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

Policymakers should address situations in which firms use their discretion to enforce standardized contracts differently for individuals from vulnerable communities. 

Dismantling Unjust Interest Rates for Debt Collection

March 30, 2022 | Karuna Patel, Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham University School of Law

Legislators in New York offer an example of how states can lower high judgment interest rates on unpaid debt that disproportionately harm low-income consumers.

The SBA Should Change Its Rules on Criminal History

April 4, 2022 | Zachary Best and Stephen Hayes, Relman Colfax 

Federal loan programs for small business likely violate anti-discrimination laws due to the disparate impact these programs have on people of color.

Increasing Protections for Low-Income Homeowners

April 5, 2022 | Kate Dugan, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia

Philadelphia passed legislation to prevent predatory home buying schemes by residential property wholesalers, helping low-income homeowners build intergenerational wealth.

Fixing Cash Aid Is More Than Child’s Play

April 6, 2022 | Lynn D. Lu, The City University of New York School of Law

Policymakers must diversify the sources of information that machine learning depends upon before using automated decision-making systems in cash assistance programs.