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Belmont Law Review

Abstract

This article will discuss the work of sociologist Max Weber, pioneer of the term “life chances,”and how the field of life chances has been adopted and expanded into placed-based theories such as “neighborhood effects” and the “geography of opportunity.” This article will then give a brief overview of the purpose of the Fair Housing Act and how its passage was not meant simply to combat offensive behavior, but to increase residential mobility. This article will also discuss how “lost housing opportunity” has previously been used by the courts. This section of the article will include a discussion of United States v. Hylton, the published federal court decision that, through expert testimony, explicitly connected Weber’s life chances, sociology’s “neighborhood effects,” and fair housing law’s “loss of housing opportunity” damages. In conclusion, this article will argue for a more expansive view of lost housing opportunity damages in fair housing enforcement cases, going beyond the traditional view of damages to suggest a limited importation of tort concepts to account for future differences in education, income, health, and quality of life, for those who have been subject to housing discrimination.

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