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This year, we’ve reformed the Index to focus on unhoused youth and young adults (YYA), aligning it with their experiences and policy needs. Shifting from harm reduction to transformative change, some jurisdictions may see lower scores than before. This is a deliberate strategy, not a setback. Lower scores should motivate, not discourage, jurisdictions. They present an opportunity to adopt policies that effectively tackle and prevent youth homelessness, fostering meaningful progress.

Retaliation Against Tenants Exercising Right to Habitability

  • Habitability of housing
  • Shifting power

Protections against retaliations

Many jurisdictions protect tenants from retaliation for exercising their habitability or other rights (such as tenant organizing). In theory, this is an important protection and could be raised as a defense in an eviction proceeding. In practice, this may be difficult to prove without help from an attorney. This is why a right to counsel for tenants is so important.

Key Metric Score Type of Policy Description
1.0 Reform Tenants are protected from retaliation and/or eviction for exercising their habitability rights
0.5 Harm Reduction Tenants are protected from retaliation and/or eviction for exercising their habitability rights in certain circumstances
0.0 Status Quo No law found
-0.5 Harmful Tenant are prohibited from raising a retaliation defense
No Data No Data No Data

Cite: National Homelessness Law Center and True Colors United. ", Retaliation Against Tenants Exercising Right to Habitability" https://youthstateindex.com/maps/retaliation-against-tenants-exercising-right-to-habitability/. Accessed: June 22, 2024.

Habitability of housing

A habitable dwelling is one that is safe, clean, and suitable for living in. It is an essential component of the right to housing. In general, landlords have a legal obligation to maintain habitability in their rental properties, including working heat, hot water and electricity, and addressing issues like broken locks or infestations. However, jurisdictions vary in how much power renters have to hold landlords responsible to fix unsafe or unlivable conditions.

“It’s one thing to get housing, it’s another to have to feel uncomfortable in that housing. NYCHA supportive housing can be dangerous, too many repairs, infestations. People going through housing insecurity are expected to deal with these things. Housing is often seen as a profit maker and not a basic right. Landlords and property managers should care more and keep up on their buildings.”– Kemi Adebisi-Oke

Shifting power

Shifting power in housing refers to a change in the dynamics of control and decision-making regarding housing. Historically, power in housing has been concentrated in the hands of wealthy individuals and corporations, leaving marginalized communities with limited say in the development and management of their homes and neighborhoods. However, there has been a growing movement towards shifting power towards these communities, with a focus on community-led development, tenant rights, and affordable housing.

Shifting power in housing can also help us move towards the decommodification of housing, which is when housing is treated primarily as a place to live rather than a financial asset or means of accumulating profit. There are a few types of decommodified housing, such as public or social housing (housing owned by governments or other public entities) or shared equity housing (housing owned by a group of residents, community members, or community organizations). But decommodified housing today constitutes less than 1 percent of US housing stock. The Index tracks a few policies that jurisdictions can enact to support shared equity models but action is needed on the federal level to reinvest in public housing and to support efforts like a Homes Guarantee.

“Autonomy in housing choice – I think about subsidized housing and what I had to give up to access it. Privacy was lacking when accessing certain things, like refrigerators had to be looked in. Over policing in these spaces removes privacy and autonomy and the impact on mental health in spaces that lack autonomy and privacy is devastating. Constantly looking for notices, constantly anxious about conditions of housing and maintenance checks. This causes stress and anxiety with my son, as well. MULTIGENERATIONAL stresses, constantly on the defense. Housing should preserve dignity and respect.” – Tiffany S. Haynes


These maps are provided as legal information only and should not be used as legal advice for your specific situation. If you need help with any of the issues described on this website, please check out the Homeless Youth Legal Network (HYLN) directory OR email or call HYLN for help finding a referral to a lawyer.