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Assembling a Library to Support a Legal Services Housing Practice

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Assembling a Library to Support a Legal Services Housing Practice One Perspective
Jim Schaafsma, Housing Attorney
Michigan Poverty Law Program
December 13, 1999

There are many excellent publications available to assist legal services advocates handling housing matters. So, rather than presenting a summary of relevant housing law, we're listing resources that will help launch and support a low income housing practice.

The Indispensable (if these are not in your library, you need to get them)

    • The MLS/MPLP Michigan Residential Landlord-Tenant Manual, 3rd ed. ("The Bluebook"). (It's available directly from MPLP, for a cost of $40 to legal services programs) This manual offers a survey of Michigan housing law relevant to tenants and low income homeowners, and a primer on defending a summary proceedings eviction case
    • The National Housing Law Project's HUD Housing Programs: Tenant�s Rights, 2nd ed. and 1998 Supplement (They're available together for $220.00, or separately, $165 for 2nd ed, $120 for Supp.,from the Project, at 614 Grand Ave, Suite 320, Oakland, CA 94610, Attn: Publications Clerk; 510.251-9400; This resource provides detailed treatment of the federal rental housing programs and the issues commonly arising in cases involving them. Legislation enacted in 1998 made significant changes to these programs, many of which are reported in the Project's Housing Reports (see below) and will be summarized at the MPLP Roadshow.

The Invaluable (a step below the indispensable, but extremely useful, particularly if you do work in the specific areas noted)

    • Cameron, Michigan Real Property Law-Principles and Commentary, 2nd ed (w/supp), Institute of Continuing Legal Education's (ICLE, 2020 Green Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109;877.229-4350; cost - $165, incl. supp., may be able to get 10% Education Partners discount) This 2 volume set presents thorough coverage of many topics under this broad heading.
    • The National Consumer Law Center's Consumer Credit and Sales Legal Practice Series (If you do homeownership defense, such as mortgage foreclosure avoidance, the Consumer Bankruptcy Law and Practice ($72), Truth in Lending ($60), and Repossessions and Foreclosures ($54) manuals are particularly useful; the entire 13 volume set costs $624, all w/supp) NCLC, 18 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108; 617.523-8089; Also, all LSC funded offices may receive for free the NCLC Reports, consisting of 4 separate editions each published 6 times a year. If you aren�t getting NCLC Reports, contact NCLC.
    • National Housing Law Project's Housing Law Bulletin (10-12 issues/year, $150) The Bulletin reports developments in the federal housing programs.
    • 24 CFR the Code of Federal Regulations title covering most HUD programss. The 5 volume book set is available from the U.S.Government Printing Office for $110, or online, for free, by section, at or
    • Relman, Housing Discrimination Practice Manual (w/supp) (CBC/West Group, $145, 800.344-5008 as its title implies, a very practical aid to doing fair housing case work, authored by the director of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, who has done some very significant litigation in this field
    • Schwemm, Housing Discrimination: Law & Litigation (w/supp.)(CBC/West Group, $145) arguably the leading treatise on this subject

The Informative (these are good to have, but not essential)

    • Schoshinski, American Law of Landlord & Tenant (w/supp.)(CBC/West Group, $168). a comprehensive compendium on this subject
    • The State Bar of Michigan's Real Property Law Section's Michigan Real Property Review Sent free 4 times/year to members of the state bar's Real Property Law Section, $35 annual dues) its orientation is not low income housing issues, more real estate development, but there's generally at least article of interest and relevance to low income housing advocacy.
    • Deems and Tervo Michigan Real Estate Practice and Forms, 2nd ed (ICLE, $165 or $148.50 with discount) a helpful practice guide
    • Hill, Landlord Tenant Law in a Nutshell (West, $21) not the foundation for a library, but probably what you expect from a nutshell

Web Resources (10 sites that provide information on low income housing issues)

    • MPLP's site, (look for the issue alerts)
    • The Housing Law Project's site, including the LALSHAC (Loose Assoc.of Legal Services Attorneys and Clients) discussion board,
    • HUD's site, (lots of data and information about HUD programs; especially useful are the public housing and multifamily "gateway" pages, and, and the HUD document source,
    • The National Low Income Housing Coalition site, (good source for news and information, particularly about housing needs and affordability)
    • The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities site,, (informative reports, particularly about the intersection of housing and welfare reform)
    • The National Center on Poverty Law's site, (on-line location of the Clearinghouse Review and its useful Case Reports)
    • The Center for Community Change's site, (information on housing and other poverty issues, including working with community groups)
    • The National Housing Institute's site, (another perspective on low income housing issues and advocacy)
    • The Urban Institute's site, (a broader perspective on poverty issues)
    • The Census Bureau's site, (as you'd expect, there�s a lot there)