Justin Steil

Justin Steil (CV) is an Associate Professor of Law and Urban Planning. Broadly interested in racial justice and spatial dimensions of inequality, his research examines the intersection of urban policy with property, land use, and civil rights law. His recent scholarship has explored the relationship between space, power, and inequality in the context of environmental justice, mass incarceration, immigration federalism, lending discrimination, and housing policy.  For a full list of publications, please see the publications page.

He is a co-editor of three books: Furthering Fair Housing: Prospects for Racial Justice in America’s Neighborhoods (2021), The Dream Revisited: Contemporary Debates about Housing, Segregation, and Opportunity (2019) and Searching for the Just City: Debates in Urban Theory and Practice (2009). 

Other recent publications include “Disaster, Abolition, and Repair” in Poverty and Race (2020); “Mapping Gentrification and Displacement Pressure: An Exploration of Four Distinct Methodologies” in Urban Studies (2020); “Varieties of Urbanism: A Comparative View of Inequality and the Dual Dimensions of Metropolitan Fragmentation” in Politics & Society (2020); “Affordable Housing, Disasters, and Social Equity: LIHTC as a Tool for Preparedness and Recovery” in the Journal of the American Planning Association (2020); "Eviction Dynamics in Market-rate Multifamily Rental Housing" in Housing Policy Debate (2020); “Limits of Diversity: Jane Jacobs, the Just City, and Anti-Subordination” in Cities (2019); “Antisubordination Planning” in the Journal of Planning Education and Research (2018); “The Social Structure of Mortgage Discrimination,” in Housing Studies (2018); and “The New Immigration Contestation: Social Movements and Local Immigration Policymaking in the United States, 2000-2011,” in the American Journal of Sociology (2014).  Justin also co-authored an Amicus Brief on behalf of housing scholars to the United States Supreme Court in Bank of America et al. v. City of Miami and is a frequent expert witness in federal civil rights litigation.  Justin’s research has been cited in federal court opinions and other briefs to the Supreme Court. With his students, Justin has also created an online library of primary sources and research regarding the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule.

Before coming to MIT, Justin was a Fellow at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University Law School. Prior to NYU, he clerked for the Hon. M. Margaret McKeown, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Hon. Kimba M. Wood, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Before graduate school, he worked as advocacy director for a non-profit fighting predatory lending practices, urban planner for an environmental justice organization focusing on brownfield redevelopment, program manager for a project bringing youth and prisoners into critical dialogues about justice, and trainer with a domestic violence crisis center instructing police in Ciudad Juárez in the support of survivors of sexual assault.

Justin received a B.A. from Harvard College in African-American Studies, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics in City Design and Social Science, a J.D. from Columbia Law School, and a Ph.D. in Urban Planning from the Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  For most of the past two decades, he has volunteered teaching in jails or prisons, and he has co-founded volunteer teaching programs at Boston’s Suffolk County House of Correction; New York City’s Riker’s Island Correctional Facility; and the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. 

Justin serves on the Board of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council and was formerly a member of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank's Community Development Research Advisory Council. He is an affiliate of MIT’s Women’s and Gender Studies program, Sociology at MIT, and MIT’s Legal Studies Concentration.  Justin is also a member of the Steering Group of the Inter-University Consortium on Migration and a member of the faculty council of the MIT Community Innovators Lab (CoLab). Justin is a researcher in residence for Boston Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and an Emergency Medical Technician for MIT EMS

The department’s students awarded Justin the Departmental Teaching Award in 2016 and the Office of Graduate Education awarded him the Committed to Caring Award in 2018 for “professors who go above and beyond expectations to make a positive impact on the lives of graduate students.”  MIT in 2018 awarded Justin the Paul Gray Award for Public Service, recognizing “a member of the MIT faculty who exemplifies building a better world” through his or her teaching, research, advising, and service.”  In 2021, the Graduate Student Council awarded Justin the Frank E. Perkins Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising and MIT awarded the Harold E. Edgerton Award for exceptional contributions in research, teaching, and service.


Areas of Interest
Climate Change, Community Development, Community Planning and Economic Development, Environmental Planning, Feminism, Gender Studies, Health, History and Theory of Planning, Housing, Housing Development, Land Use, Land Use Law and Planning, Law and Policy, Social Equity, Social, Inclusion, and Diversity Planning