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Fordham University School of Law




The study of the relationship betw een all families, whether marital or non-marital, and households, is underdeveloped, despite extensive study of the mismatch between family law, which is still focused on marriage and parenthood, and family prac tices. Often, in an effort to update the discourse, discussions of non-marital families seem to deploy households or living arrangemen ts as a substitute classification in the place of the old marital family. This Article argues that we need to resist the tendency to s ubstitute the idea of “household” when the boundaries of legal fami ly fail us, because households are not necessarily familial, and because core famili al ties exist across multiple households. Household membership is characterized by churn, both because of changes in intimate attachme nts and because of life cycle changes. This Arti cle argues that housing design and housing policy should accommodate that churn in a way that minimizes disruption to individua ls’ attachment to building, neighborhood, community, and family members living in separate households. It should offer options for stability that are economically realistic for people whose households will change. No single policy intervention can resolve the disruptions associated with fluctuating household membership. Rather, properly understanding the needs of families as distinct from households provides a lens for evaluating particular attributes of housing policy. Two housing principles in particular would better serve the ne eds of today’s households. First, housing policy should prioritize the family ties of non-householders to a household. As family members exit a housing unit, housing policy should seek to stabilize their ties with the household, particularly valuing proximity. Second, the design of the unit itself should reflect the inevitable expansion and cont raction in household membership. This means that the unit would allow for proximity with privacy for linked households. This Article se eks to marry insights from the emerging literature on multi- generational household design, accessory dwelling units, and micro-units, with insights from the literature on the new normative fam ily, in the hopes of producing an improved housing policy lens.



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