The New Racially Restrictive Covenant: Race, Welfare, and the Policing of Black Women in Subsidized Housing


This Article explores the race, gender, and class dynamics that render poor Black women vulnerable to racial surveillance and harassment in predominately white communities. In particular, this Article interrogates the recent phenomenon of police officers and public officials enforcing private citizens’ discriminatory complaints, which ultimately excludes Black women and their children from publicly subsidized housing in traditionally white neighborhoods. The Article suggests that these particular mechanisms represent a
confluence of the racially exclusionary workings of the social welfare state and the criminal justice system. I thus argue that the concerted effort of welfare and criminal policing institutions, together with private actors, to restrict the housing choices of poor Black women functions in ways that are analogous to the formally repudiated racially restrictive covenant.

About the Author

Priscilla Ocen is Associate Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

By uclalaw