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Housing Justice Initiative

The Urban Law Center, in collaboration with the Public Interest Resource Center, created the Housing Justice Initiative (HJI) as a part of Fordham Law School’s Access to Justice (A2J) Initiative.  HJI works with students to prepare, through learning and practice, to make a difference for low-income tenants and pursue careers in housing advocacy and poverty law. HJI also serves as Fordham Law’s bridge to tenants, legal providers, the City, and other law schools engaged in this important work.


Click here for more information on HJI and ways to become involved.


The International Research Group on Law and Urban Space-IRGLUS is a global network which gathers academics from diverse backgrounds – jurists, geographers, sociologists, political scientists, urban planners, environmentalists – who are interested in the interface between law and urbanisation. As a network, IRGLUS encourages research in urban legal studies and, to this end, organizes international workshops for the presentation and dissemination of relevant research projects and findings.

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The Local Solutions Support Center (LSSC) is a coordinating hub that provides local governments, elected officials and advocates with the strategies, tools and assistance needed to defend local democracy and discourage the use of preemption that limits the ability of cities to protect people’s civil rights, solve problems, and improve lives.

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The Urban Consortium at Fordham University organizes and sponsors programs and events that highlight contemporary urban issues. It focuses on engaged, interdisciplinary urban research by graduate students and faculty.

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The UN-Habitat vision of “a better quality of life for all in an urbanizing world” is bold and ambitious. UN-Habitat works with partners to build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and communities. UN-Habitat promotes urbanization as a positive transformative force for people and communities, reducing inequality, discrimination and poverty.

UN-Habitat works in over 90 countries to promote transformative change in cities and human settlements through knowledge, policy advice, technical assistance and collaborative action.

UN-Habitat’s new strategic plan 2020-2023 adopts a more strategic and integrated approach to solving the challenges and opportunities of twenty-first century cities and other human settlements.

Our mission embodies the four main roles of the organization, which can be summarized as: Think, Do, Share and Partner.

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UN Habitat Global Land Use Survey

The State of Planning Law in the Global Sample of Cities

From July 2018 to January 2019, The Urban Law Center engaged seven Urban Law Student Fellows (ULSFs) in a research collaboration with UN-Habitat on a Global Land Use Survey.  The Legislation Unit of UN-Habitat developed a questionnaire for this survey, consisting of seventeen questions facilitating data collection in three thematic areas for a pre-selected global sample of 200 cities around the world: a) Urban Areas; b) Urban Plans and Public Space; and c) Institutional Capacity. The data gathered from the research was intended to assist with planning systems for UN-Habitat to implement the New Urban Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Applying the questionnaire, the Urban Law Center’s ULSFs drafted land use reports for seven U.S. cities including Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; New York, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; and Toledo, Ohio.

A sample report can be found here.

Effectiveness of Planning Law in Land-Rich Developed Countries

The aforementioned land use reports drafted by the Urban Law Center's ULSF's for the Global Land Use Survey was utilized by UN-Habitat to help generate its latest publication about physical planning law, Effectiveness of Planning Law in Land-Rich Developed Countries. 


UN-Habitat has conducted an objective, evidence-based assessment on the application of physical planning laws in 18 cities of the Land-Rich Developed Countries Region. The selection of cities is based on the UN Global Sample of 200 cities as a statistically and regionally representative dataset. The study considers whether the law is being applied as written and informs the discussion on the effectiveness of legislative design.

This publication portrays the findings from the study with empirical data on growth boundaries, population density, compliance with spatial planning and zoning, land management and staffing capacity.  City managers in Land-Rich Developed Countries can use this information to rethink the sustainability of their urbanization model and to help them create systems that can result in equity, shared prosperity and environmental sustainability. These are key principles embodied under the New Urban Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – particularly Goal 11.

View a copy of the free e-book here.

UrbanLex is a free global database which aims to improve access to the legislation that regulates the urban environment. The database features seven critical areas of urban law that are essential to the sustainability and development of the legal framework in urban areas. 

Compiling the laws is important but it is only the first step. In order to make UrbanLex more useful and advanced than a simple data repository, the database incorporates research tools. 

The laws can be searched using various indicators including theme, region, country or keywords. The laws are primarily available in their original language and accompanied by a digest in English.

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Urban Law Journal

The Fordham Urban Law Journal, now in its 46th year, is the second oldest publication at the law school. The Journal annually publishes five books which address policy issues affecting urban areas. 

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The Urban Law Lab is a collaborative research project which adopts a critical approach to understanding the relationship between law, rights, and the urban. Our principal aim is to open up a discussion in this field, and to unite these disciplines so as to better inform policy, scholarship, theory, and the practice of law.

We take an open approach to the notion of rights insofar as they apply spatially. We do not limit our understanding of rights to legal rights, but value both political claims and non-binding rights recognised through a variety of platforms, including international and regional, governmental and non-governmental arenas.

We take a broad approach to the notion of the urban. We do not view this construct within a particular notion of what a city is, but acknowledge the wide array of environments which we inhabit.

We do not confine ourselves to any particular jurisdiction. We seek to understand the relationship between law and the urban in both common law and civil jurisdictions, as well as beyond the law itself. We are interested in how the law is made and shaped through the decisions of courts at various levels, and by legislatures and councils existing across the law-making spectrum.

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