NLCHP News: New Policy Proposals, Children's Art on Display, Help the Homeless Walkathon
||A publication of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
|Lawyers Working to End Homelessness
||Vol. 7, No. 10
||From Maria's Desk
What an eventful fall.
First, the grim news: Communities across the country
are reporting increased homelessness and poverty
as foreclosures force people into homelessness and
the economic downturn squeezes resources. In D.C.,
So Others Might Eat (SOME) reports a 10% increase
in food requests this year. In Denver, the rescue
mission reports that 8% of its families are homeless
as a result of foreclosure. In Contra Costa, CA, the
County Supervisor reports that the homeless
population is changing as foreclosures are forcing
people out of their homes.
These are just a few examples. NLCHP has started a
page on our new wiki website to track the link between
foreclosures and increasing homelessness - please
add to it and help us document the impact.
At the same time, there are new opportunities for
advocacy with a new Administration and new
Congress. Following up on our joint Five
Fundamentals Campaign, national advocates are
developing joint policy proposals for the incoming
Administration. Watch NLCHP's website in the
coming days to read them and learn how you can get
involved. Getting the attention of our government
leaders will be essential in our work to stem and end
the crisis - your voice is crucial!
We also had reason to celebrate this past month, with
our 10th Annual McKinney-Vento Awards Dinner,
which honors leadership to end and prevent
homelessness in the U.S. See below for details, and
click here for some nice
press coverage (and photos) of the event.
||Four Honored at 10th Annual McKinney-Vento Awards
On Thursday, November 6th, NLCHP honored four
individuals and organizations that have advanced
solutions to end homelessness in America.
At a venue provided by Jones Day, overlooking the US
Capitol, 120 were on-hand to honor this year's
awardees. Fox 5 news anchor, Laura Evans Manatos,
served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening.
Just days following the national elections, NLCHP
Board of Directors Chair, Dr. William Breakey, urged
attendees to join "A New Campaign: End
Homelessness in America."
The Stewart B. McKinney Award went to Richard E.
Schaden, founder of Quiznos, for his efforts to create
and fund America's Road Home, a national non-profit
organization focused on ending homelessness. Mr.
Schaden was called away on business and was
unable to attend the event. Tom Ryan, Executive
Director of America's Road Home, accepted the award
on his behalf.
US Representative Judy Biggert, from the 13th District
of Illinois, received the Bruce F. Vento Award. Mrs.
Biggert has been a tireless advocate of homeless
children and their families. She has been a lead
negotiator on legislation to stem foreclosures and
help keep people in their homes, and she has been
leading the fight to expand HUD's definition of
homelessness to include doubled-up youth and
families and to provide greater flexibility to rural
communities, securing a victory after 15 years of work
on this issue.
Hogan & Hartson received the Pro Bono Counsel
Award for its years of partnership with and assistance
to NLCHP. This year, the firm prepared a
comprehensive state-by-state report on voter
registration laws. Using this information, NLCHP and
other advocate groups led a nation-wide initiative to
register homeless and low-income people to vote.
Judy Faubert accepted the award on behalf of Hogan
The 2008 Personal Achievement Award went to Ms.
Tonya Bullock of Baltimore, MD, who shared her story
of losing her home and being part of a class action
lawsuit on behalf of homeless children in Baltimore,
including her son, in order to keep them in a stable
These awards pay tribute to two outstanding national
leaders in the fight to end homelessness, Stewart B.
McKinney and Bruce F. Vento.
||Children's Art on Display
If you're in the DC area, you can check out
submissions from NLCHP's Annual Homeless and
Low-Income Children's Art Contest at the Arlington
Arts Center from November 18 - 29. Don't miss this
||UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing on Informal Visit to U.S.
NLCHP, together with partner, the National Economic
& Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), hosted the new UN
Special Rapporteur on Adequate
Housing, Raquel Rolnik, for an informal visit to
New York City and San Francisco in late October.
Ms. Rolnik was in the U.S. for a meeting of the UN
General Assembly, during which she issued an official statement on housing
rights and the foreclosure and economic crisis.
During her time in New York, Ms. Rolnik met with
housing and homeless advocacy organizations and
toured various points of housing rights abuses. Stops
on the tour included the Emergency Assistance Unit,
where homeless families are given temporary
housing (or not), landlord & tenant court, public
housing, and slum dwellings in Chinatown. At the
conclusion of her two days in New York, Ms. Rolnik
said, "it is clear to me that New York is violating the
right to housing."
Ms. Rolnik continued on to San Francisco, where she
held meetings with advocates coordinated by the
Western Regional Advocacy Project and the San
Francisco Housing Rights Committee. Additionally,
she toured a homeless drop-in center, the Mission
District to see evidence of gentrification, Single Room
Occupancy buildings in Chinatown and public
Advocates in both cities expressed enthusiasm for her
return on an official mission, which will likely come in
early 2009. She plans to re-visit these cities, as well
as a number of others across the country. Groups
interested in having the Special Rapporteur visit their
city to shine an international spotlight on housing
rights violations locally can contact NLCHP to get
involved in planning and coordination.
||B.C. Court Finding on Right to Shelter Self
On October 14, 2008, the Supreme Court of British
Columbia handed down a decision in the case of
Victoria v. Adams, finding unconstitutional a Victoria
city ordinance which prohibits using "temporary
abodes" like tents for shelter in parks and public
spaces in the absence of adequate shelter beds.
The decision begins by quoting from the U.S.
Pottinger v. Miami case, which found police could not
arrest homeless persons for performing life-
sustaining activities such as sleeping and eating in
public based on the Eighth Amendment prohibition on
cruel and unusual punishment. The Canadian Court
looked to different elements of the Canadian Charter
of Rights, finding the ordinance infringed upon the
rights to life, liberty, and security of person. This line of
reasoning is potentially important for U.S. advocates
who are seeking to create a broader interpretation of
our own proclamation of the right to life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of
Significantly, the court interpreted the provisions of the
Charter in light of Canada's human rights treaty
obligations and other international law protecting the
right to housing. The court specifically quoted from the
which states, "we recognize an obligation by
Governments to enable people to obtain shelter and
to protect and improve dwellings and
The City of Victoria is appealing the ruling to the
Canadian Supreme Court; a decision there is
expected in 2009.
||New FAFSA Form to Enable Unaccompanied Youth to Apply for College Aid
NLCHP, together with partner organization the
National Association for the Education of Homeless
Children & Youth (NAEHCY), submitted comments
last month on a new Free Application for Federal
Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which enables
unaccompanied homeless youth to apply for federal
The FAFSA requires parental financial information and
a parental signature for most students, creating
barriers for unaccompanied youth who do not have
access to those documents or their parents'
signature. The College Cost Reduction and Access
Act of 2007 changed the definition of "independent
student" to include unaccompanied youth and
expanded eligibility for foster youth. Although colleges
are already allowed to make exceptions for
unaccompanied youth, beginning with the application
for the 2009-2010 school year, the FAFSA will include
an explicit reference for youth who are certified by the
school's homeless liaison or the college's financial
aid counselor to apply as an independent student.
This eliminates the parental income documentation
and signature requirement, as well as generally
increasing the student's eligibility for aid.
NLCHP's comments focused on clarifying language
that could have prevented older unaccompanied youth
and those who are self-supporting and at risk of
homelessness from applying. The final forms will be
issued in early 2009, and NLCHP looks forward to
working with schools to ensure homeless youth are
aware that the door to higher education is open to
||Welcome to New LEAP Member
NLCHP is pleased to welcome Covington & Burling
LLP to its Lawyers Executive Advisory Partners (LEAP)
program. The American Lawyer ranked Covington
No.2 in its 2008 pro bono survey, and the firm's pro
bono program encompasses a wide range of areas,
including civil rights and civil liberties; landlord/tenant
issues; homelessness; and employment.
Covington & Burling has a long history of partnering
with NLCHP on pro bono projects, co-counseling a
successful case to enforce a federal law making
vacant federal property available to nonprofits for use
to assist homeless persons and continuing to assist
in monitoring federal government compliance with the
permanent injunction in that case. Covington also
provided legislative drafting and advocacy assistance
to help NLCHP secure passage of federal legislation
requiring base closure communities to consider the
needs of homeless persons when developing reuse
plans for closing military bases.
The firm was the recipient of the Pro Bono Counsel
Award at the 2007 McKinney-Vento Awards.
||Shop Online to Benefit NLCHP!
As the holiday shopping season approaches,
remember that you can support NLCHP when you
Order items through iGive.com, GiveBackAmerica.org or Go
odShop.com, choose NLCHP as your charity, and
a percentage of the sale will go to NLCHP, at no
additional cost to you! Hundreds of popular retailers
participate through these sites.
At GiveBackAmerica.org, you can even book
your holiday travel, with a percentage of proceeds
||Help the Homeless Walkathon!
It's not too late to join NLCHP at the Help the
Homeless Walkathon on the National Mall in
Washington, DC this Saturday, November 22nd.
to register to walk with our team, or cl
ick here if you cannot attend but would like to
make a contribution.
||Upcoming Free Audio Training
Increasing Access to SSI and Related Benefits
Friday, December 5, 2:00- 3:00 pm ET
Click here to register for this event.
NOTE: This is NOT the National Forum on the
Human Right to Housing. You do NOT need to fill out
or pay the fee listed on the confirmation page.
NLCHP is a 501(c)(3) organization. Visit our website at www.nlchp.org! Contact us at (202) 638-2535 or email us at