to include a link to Secretary Donovan's remarks.
week, the Law Center hosted our annual McKinney-Vento Awards
Ceremony and Dinner. It was an occasion to celebrate
accomplishments, and also to reflect on all that still remains to
Our event honors the memories of Stewart McKinney and Bruce Vento,
members of Congress who had the courage to lead Congressional
efforts that led to enactment of the first major federal
legislation addressing homelessness during a time when few others
did. This year, we were especially pleased to welcome as our
keynote speaker HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who spoke on the topic
of ending homelessness. You can read the full text of his speech here.
We honored author Barbara Ehrenreich for her courageous and
incisive writing on the criminalization of homelessness and
poverty; the Pennsylvania-based Education Law Center, a valued
partner with the Law Center in important
victories on behalf of homeless children; and the Elzer family,
plaintiffs in our case, for speaking out on behalf of their
children's right to attend school while they were homeless. We
recognized Dechert LLP with our Pro Bono Counsel award, for its
extensive, cutting edge pro bono work for the Law Center. Dechert
is also a member of our LEAP
program, providing critically important financial
Bono Week comes at the end of October, and we are especially
grateful for the important work of our pro bono partners The Law
Center owes its start to pro bono work, and without the continued
support of our pro bono partners, we would not be able to carry out
our vigorous advocacy on behalf of homeless Americans.
As I noted at the dinner, this is a critical time for homeless and
poor people in America. The foreclosure crisis and continued high
unemployment are driving dramatic increases in homelessness across
the country, and our advocacy--and that of our partners--is more
important than ever.
while we are pleased that the new Federal Strategic Plan to End and
Prevent Homelessness is comprehensive and bold in its sweep-and
reflects much of the input of the Law Center and our partners-it is
so far just a plan. Translating into real solutions will require
adequate funding and vigorous implementation. And for that to
happen will take strong advocacy by us all.
Violence Awareness - Washington, DC Area Events
In recognition of Domestic Violence
Awareness Month, the Law Center is collaborating with a number of
community partners to educate local stakeholders on housing
protections for survivors. On October 27, the Law Center will join
the University of Baltimore's Civil Advocacy and Family Law Clinics
and other members of the Maryland Safe Homes Coalition to host a
discussion about Maryland's new rental housing law for victims of
domestic violence and sexual assault. Panelists will introduce the
new law and recount the journey behind its successful passage,
emphasizing advocacy strategies and recent community education
efforts. In addition to providing a defense in eviction cases
related to domestic violence, the law authorizes lock changes and
early lease terminations for tenants with heightened safety
On October 28, the Law Center will partner with the District
Alliance for Safe Housing, the Legal Aid Society, and the D.C.
Office of Human Rights to train D.C. Housing Authority staff on
federal and local housing protections for public housing residents
experiencing domestic violence. The training will address fair
housing and eviction defense provisions in both the Violence
Against Women Act and the DC Protection from Discriminatory
Eviction for Victims of Domestic Violence Amendment Act.
For more information about either of these events, contact Rachel Natelson.
Bono Week - Thank you!
week is the 2nd annual National Pro Bono Celebration week,
sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public
Service. In observation of this celebration, we wish to thank all
of our pro bono and Lawyer's Executive Advisory Partners (LEAP)
members. Thank you! With your assistance, we have achieved great
successes during the past year.
Pro bono lawyers and law firm participation are key to the success
of the Law Center. The time, resources, and expertise donated by
our pro bono partners augment and amplify our work, making an even
In 2009, our pro bono partners donated over 4,300 hours of pro
bono service, more than doubling our budget effectively and vastly
expanding what the Law Center was able to accomplish. Thirty-eight
firms donated their time and talent through offices in 23 states
and 50 cities around the country.
Pro bono partnerships are key to ending homelessness and are at
the heart of much of our work. In 2009 and 2010, some of our pro
bono partnerships included:
LEAP is a national philanthropic effort of the legal community to
help homeless and poor Americans achieve self-sufficiency. LEAP
members work to prevent and end homelessness by providing the Law
Center with financial support as well as pro bono legal services.
The members form a network of key influential leaders that realize
significant positive social change. The Law Center is tremendously
grateful for the support of all of its LEAP firms and pro bono
- Protecting homeless children's rights to remain in their school
of origin through administrative procedures; assisting with
administrative representation, exploring other appropriate
- Advocating against the "criminalization" of homelessness
through various court cases, including challenging Boise, Idaho's
anti-camping law and a Dallas, Texas ordinance restricting outside
food service to homeless people.
- Helping various developers and homeless service providers
obtain housing and/or space to provide shelter and services to
homeless individuals, including in Oregon, Rhode Island, Florida,
- Researching issues facing homeless veterans and advocating for
increases in funding for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration
- Researching domestic violence statutes in all 50 states, and
advocating to improve domestic violence survivors' access to
- Producing a state-by-state report on protections for renter in
- And many, many more!
To receive information about our pro bono opportunities and/or to
receive more information about LEAP membership, please contact Pro
Bono Coordinator Katharyn Christian.
The 12th Annual McKinney-Vento Awards took place last Thursday,
October 14, at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC. The
awards recognized homeless advocates for their tremendous
contributions to the battle to end homelessness in the last
The Law Center wishes to thank Bruce and Lori Laitman Rosenblum,
presenting sponsors, and the Leonsis Foundation, event sponsor, as
well as a number of corporate and individual
sponsors. Your support ensures our critical work will
Visit our blog to read more
about the event and our honorees, and to see photos of the awards.
Advocates Ready for Review by Human Rights Council
As reported in previous issues of this newsletter, the U.S. will
receive its first-ever review by the UN Human Rights Council under
the Universal Periodic Review on November 5. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder will represent the
Over the past few months, housing advocates have drafted reports
and participated in advocacy with both the U.S. and foreign
governments to prepare for the review.
Following a series of government consultations all across the
country, when asked what human rights issue was highlighted most,
David Sullivan, Attorney-Adviser at the U.S. Department of State,
said "Housing. We have heard more about housing than you would
believe in these sessions. If I had to pick the number one issue
brought to the U.S. it would be housing."
The review will be webcast live from 3am - 6 am EST on November 5
at http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/# and will be
archived for later viewing.
The Law Center's human rights program director, Eric Tars, will be
attending the review and will be posting daily updates from Geneva
on our blog at www.homelessnesslaw.org.
For more information on the process, including informational
videos, please click here.
The National Law Center on Homelessness &
Poverty is pleased to announce its participation in this year's
combined federal campaign (CFC). CFC is the nation's largest
workplace giving campaign. It makes charitable giving easy for
federal employees and raises millions of dollars each year.
As you make your CFC giving decisions this year, please consider
designating the Law Center. You can find us under "Homelessness and
Poverty, National Law Center on" and our CFC code is
Reed Medical Center & Homeless Services
August, IJT included an update on the Base Realignment and Closure
(BRAC) process taking place on the campus of Walter Reed Army
Medical Center. We are pleased to share the exciting news that on
October 6, 2010, the Local Redevelopment Authority charged with
overseeing the transition of the property from the military to the
District of Columbia voted unanimously to approve a draft proposal
that grants land and building space to three homeless advocacy
Two of these groups, D.C.-based S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat) and
Help USA, a national non-profit partnering with Catholic Charities
of D.C., will use their allotments for permanent supportive
housing. Together, the two groups will add one hundred and twenty
one- to three-bedroom apartments for eligible families and
veterans. In addition, the Transitional Housing Corporation,
received office space to support its mission of housing homeless
families in the District.
Because of the complexity of the BRAC process, final land transfer
and development of the property will not be complete for several
years. The Law Center will continue to monitor the transition, and
looks forward to lending our expertise to the homeless service
providers at Walter Reed.
Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act
On September 29,
the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime & Drugs
held a hearing to consider the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless
Statistics Act of 2009 (S. 1765), currently pending in the U.S.
Senate. (The House of Representatives is also
considering parallel legislation: Hate Crimes Against the Homeless
Statistics Act of 2009 (H.R.3419).) The Senate
Bill is sponsored by Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, and
co-sponsored by 11 other senators.
would add homeless persons as a protected class under the Hate
Crimes Statistics Act of 1990. It would require the Attorney
General to collect data on crimes committed against victims because
of victims' race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or
ethnicity. Since 1992, the Department of Justice and the FBI have
jointly published an annual report on hate crime statistics. The
Senate Bill would require the FBI to track instances of crimes
against persons experiencing homelessness that were motivated by
their actual or perceived homeless status.
In its testimony, the Law
Center highlighted the growing threat of violent crimes against
persons experiencing homelessness. The testimony also underscored
the large number of states that have moved on this issue in recent
years. Six states and the District of Columbia have recently passed
laws that either add homeless persons as a protected class against
hate crimes or authorize courts to use bias crimes against homeless
persons as an aggravating factor in sentencing of
defendants. Nine states
are considering adding homeless persons as a protected
support this proposed legislation, contact your Senator's office and urge him or her to
co-sponsor the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act and
ask that the Senate pass the bill this year.
City Victory in Washington State
Last year, following a keynote address on Housing as a Human
Right at the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless meeting,
the Law Center was contacted by members of the Puyallup Coalition
for the Homeless regarding harassment of homeless persons
The Coalition estimates that over 200 homeless persons are sleeping
in cars or are camping in the woods surrounding Puyallup, which has
no permanent homeless shelters. Police had been forcibly evicting
homeless persons from parking in church parking lots or camping on
public land, often destroying their property in the process.
Following concerted advocacy by the Coalition, the City Council
introduced an ordinance last October to legalize tent cities on
church property as an interim step while permanent housing and
shelter options are explored. The Law Center's civil rights and
human rights program directors submitted testimony in favor of this
resolution, recognizing that while tent cities are not a permanent
solution, it is a constructive alternative to the harassment that
After a changeover in Council members, the ordinance was
reintroduced this past month, and the Law Center again was asked to
send supporting testimony. The ordinance passed unanimously. The
law creates a pilot program limited to giving one permit to one
church applicant at a time, and the church can host no more than 40
homeless persons in tents on their property for up to 3 months.
Advocates hope it can be expanded in the future, and continue to
work with the city to develop permanent housing solutions.
Again, while not a permanent solution, the victory in Puyallup
shows a quick change from a city actively harassing homeless
persons to working with advocates constructively to find ways to
stabilize and help homeless populations. As such, it can be used as
a model by other communities experiencing similar problems.
Pro Bono Coordinator
Earlier this month, the Law Center welcomed Katharyn Christian
as its new Pro Bono Coordinator. Katharyn comes to us from Hunton
& Williams LLP, where she spent the past two years as an
Associate Pro Bono Fellow providing domestic violence, family and
immigration law services to low-income individuals in Richmond, VA.
She also supervised clinic students from the University of Virginia
School of Law. Katharyn is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and
the University of Alabama School of Law, where she was
Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of the Legal Profession.
Many of you will be hearing from Katharyn in the coming weeks and
months as she reaches out to our Lawyers Executive Advisory
Partners (LEAP) members and other firms about your pro bono
interests and opportunities for further engagement with the Law
Center. We are thrilled to have Katharyn at the Law Center and are
grateful for the infusion of new energy and ideas she brings to the
Pro Bono Program.
Katharyn may be reached at the Law Center at (202) 638-2535, ext.
208 or email@example.com