In November, Northwestern University Law Review hosted its 2021 Symposium, “Reimagining Property in the Era of Inequality,” bringing together scholars of legal history, property, tax, land use, fair housing, environmental law, and family law. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered the keynote address, which was followed by a discussion with Dean Hari Osofsky. During the conversation, the mayor discussed her plans for addressing housing inequality in Chicago.
The event was organized by Summer Zofrea, senior symposium editor for the Northwestern University Law Review, and held in the Hughes Auditorium of the Lurie Medical Building. “Property rights reflect allocational decisions that define some of the most meaningful economic relationships in our society,” said Zofrea. “Today, that distribution—and its failings—are at the forefront of public debates over social, economic, and legal reforms, particularly in the United States, which exhibits wider disparities of wealth today than any other major developed nation on earth. Even more concerning is that this economic inequality often falls along gender and racial lines. These disparities—which have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic—exist as a product of the state’s intentional allocative choices, as reflected in our property laws.”
“Since day one of my administration, I’ve been determined to center equity and inclusion at the heart of everything I do as mayor and eradicate the systemic barriers that have kept communities away from opportunities,” said Lightfoot. “[These are] barriers that are perpetuated by the unequal distribution of wealth.” The mayor went on to explain her 2022 city budget: $1.2 billion out of the total $16.7 billion will be invested in Lightfoot’s Chicago Recovery Plan, a commitment to affordable housing, small businesses, and climate mitigation. “When we intentionally support those who are struggling the most, every single one of us benefits. Neglect is not cost-free.”
“I am a huge believer that universities, law schools in particular, have an incredibly important role to play in helping us have a dialogue about important issues,” said Dean Hari Osofsky.
Other panels included “History of Inequality,” “Approaching Inequality,” “Environmental Inequality,” and “Social Inequality.” Northwestern Pritzker Law faculty participated in these panels alongside scholars from Harvard Law School, University of Chicago Law School, Cornell Law School, UCLA School of Law, and more.