2024 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

Learn More & Apply

Headshot of Leah Levinger

Leah Levinger

  • Hosted by Connecticut Fair Housing Center
  • Sponsored by Albert & Anne Mansfield Foundation
  • Service location Hartford, Connecticut
  • Law school Yale Law School
  • Issue area Economic Justice, Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Leah’s project with the Connecticut Fair Housing Center will focus on ensuring that federally subsidized housing provides decent living conditions, regardless of the race and income characteristics of the neighborhood it is located within.

Across the country, roughly 3 million low-income individuals rely on apartments subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through Project-Based Section Eight. In white, middle-class neighborhoods, this federal housing program provides high quality, safe rental housing; in Black and Latinx, low-income neighborhoods, it does not. Leah’s project will lay the legal and organizing groundwork to correct a design flaw driving this housing disparity in HUD’s project-based section eight housing program, seeking to enable better housing conditions for an estimated one and a half million Black and Latinx individuals.

While working as a local housing organizer for a decade and a half, Leah saw how federal housing programs fail to provide fair and equal conditions in communities of color and how un-changing those conditions can be, despite the herculean efforts from tenants to achieve better for their communities. There is a federal design flaw driving these disparities afflicting housing communities across the country. Through legal advocacy and organizing, we can build the power to solve this problem.

Fellowship Plans

Leah is building a statistical model using HUD’s own national datasets to prove that HUD’s “market-mimicking” funding model drives racially disparate conditions in project-based section eight housing located in the most impoverished and segregated census tracts across the country, which tend to have housing markets in collapse. With that proof in mind, Leah will engage stakeholders such as tenants, community-based organizations, legal service providers, national housing justice networks, affordable housing developers, and municipal, state, and federal officials. Leah will facilitate discussions and consensus-building among these stakeholder groups about the best advocacy and legal options to achieve a more equitable federal housing system.

My Equal Justice Works Fellowship provides me the opportunity to continue to seek justice with the tenant communities I grew to know and love working as a community organizer for the 15 years before beginning law school.

Leah Levinger /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Leah

View All

Photo of Justin Small

Justin Small

Host: Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County

Sponsor: Lisa Foster and Alan Bersin

Current Fellow

Headshot of Ishvaku Vashishtha

Ishvaku Vashishtha

Host: Inner City Law Center

Sponsor: Kutak Rock, U.S. Bank

Current Fellow

Leonard Cabral

Host: Central Florida Legal Services, Inc.

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, The Florida Bar Foundation

Sara Pezeshkpour

Host: Housing Rights Center

Sponsor: Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP