Fordham University Professor on Family Poverty

Professor Huntington is an expert in the fields of family law and poverty law. Her book, Failure to Flourish: How Law Undermines Family Relationships, was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. She publishes widely in leading law journals, exploring the intersection of poverty and families and with a recent focus on non-marital families. Professor Huntington serves as an Associate Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law, Children and the Law. Professor Huntington served as Fordham law School’s Associate Dean for Research from 2014 to 2019.

On the Lack of Resources in Poor Areas: In low-income communities, the primary reason why families struggle to maintain stability is their lack of access to much-needed resources. During our conversation, Professor Huntington emphasized the severity of this issue by underscoring the extent to which the State fails to address the needs of the people it governs. According to Huntington, poor families raising children are constantly under great stress because they do not have financial mobility. In fact, although Medicaid is designed to offer medical relief to low-income citizens, most welfare programs allow desperate families to fall through the cracks by not allowing them to qualify for their services, despite the fact that such families are still struggling to pay off their living expenses. Additionally, many government services are severely underfunded yet in high demand; Professor Huntington directly referenced how the lack of Section 8 housing vouchers exacerbates the housing crisis because there are not enough subsidies to aid everyone who needs them. Though housing is the primary stressor amongst poor, urban families, unsubsidized childcare, unreliable transportation, and unreliable childcare are also factors that deteriorate household stability because they worsen parents’ stress.

On Her Family-State Model: In order to address the issues facing urban, low-income families across the nation, Huntington believes that a “Family-State Model” should be developed; this model holds that the State should offer greater support to families in the forms of subsidies so that these families can well-equipped to contribute meaningfully to their communities. This aid, however, should not come in the exchange of familial self-determination, which has occurred in several governmental programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, where families can become ineligible if they have over a thousand dollars in savings. Moreover, Professor Huntington believes that such programs should have looser restrictions on who is eligible for services in order to help alleviate the financial stress of more families. Thus, such expanded support is needed to uplift hardworking families, whose lack of access to state aid not only reduces their social mobility but also worsens their basic structure.

To view Professor Huntington's Publication, click here.