In the District of Columbia, our organizational home, thousands of unaccompanied minors experience homelessness each year. They may have legal rights that give them access to health care, housing, and education, and that protect them from arrest for truancy and other status crimes. But they are unlikely to often know what those are or how to assert them. That’s why we’ve partnered with pro bono legal teams at The Walt Disney Company and Baker McKenzie to create a new Homeless Youth Handbook, with accessible, practical information on legal rights and resources for youth. We will roll it out at our annual McKinney Vento Awards reception this November 19th where we will also honor our partners for their pro bono work on this critical initiative.
But legal rights, even when understood and asserted, are not always respected. That’s why we are ready, when necessary, to enforce rights in court in partnership with local groups around the country. To help support litigation to protect the rights of homeless people, we’ve developed a new electronic legal resource bank that collects legal materials We’re grateful to the three pro bono teams that are making this new resource possible—JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goodwin Procter LLP, and HighQ—and look forward to honoring them as well.
One key case we have litigated for almost a decade recently led to a landmark ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, directly affecting the nine states in that circuit and setting national precedent. Martin v. Boise stands for the proposition that criminally punishing homeless people for sleeping outside, when there is no indoor place for them to perform this essential human function, is unconstitutional. Throughout this lengthy court battle, which may now continue to the U.S. Supreme Court, our pro bono team at Latham & Watkins LLP has performed extraordinary work, and we will be honoring the firm with a specially created extraordinary service award.
Congressional leadership is critical to our mission to use the power of the law to end and prevent homelessness. We’re especially grateful to Rep. Joyce Beatty for her advocacy for increased access to legal services for homeless veterans and fighting for the Violence Against Women Act, to address one of the leading causes of homelessness for women. As Chair of the Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion of the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Beatty is fighting to counter the discriminatory and inequitable policies that lead to homelessness and housing injustice. We’re proud to be honoring her with our Bruce F. Vento Award.
Our work may be complex, but our goal is simple: positively affecting people’s lives. Khadijah Williams, who was homeless on Skid Row in L.A. as a youth, illustrates the impact of our work. A remarkable person in her own right, she benefited from the education of homeless children and youth program of the McKinney-Vento Act to gain access to education—eventually graduating from Harvard College. She has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and recently joined our Board of Directors, and we are especially proud to recognize her with our Personal Achievement Award.
I hope you’ll help us honor our remarkable honorees, celebrate our 30 years of impact, and continue our work by supporting this year’s McKinney-Vento Awards!
Founder & Executive Director
Recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Importance of VAWA
Every year, October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month, yet domestic violence remains a year-round issue, impacting over 10 million people annually. 1 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner. The harm of this abuse often lingers well past the actual act of violence itself, traumatizing many survivors. Crucially, it also often leaves them without a place to continue their lives, as those fleeing intimate partner abuse must frequently leave behind their homes to escape it. Stable housing is a must for a safe and prosperous life, and domestic violence can make housing anything but stable—up to 20% of victims and survivors struggle to find or keep housing because of sexual violence.
The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed the House of Representatives earlier this year, but has yet to be passed in the Senate. The most recent iteration of the bill includes measures recommended by housing advocates that can help survivors of domestic violence gain and maintain stable housing, such as strengthening protections for survivors of domestic violence from eviction due to any criminal actions of perpetrators and improving the emergency transfer of survivors into transitional housing. These and other updates to the bill give it the potential to protect domestic violence survivors at a more comprehensive level than ever before. We hope the Senate will pass the reauthorization bill so that millions of affected individuals receive sorely needed help, and we will continue working to ensure everyone has access to safe and secure housing.
Law Center in the Media
Tahlequah Daily Press (10/14/2019) NSU set to host ‘The Working Poor’ author
Meridian Star (10/12/2019) OUR VIEW: Continuing the conversation on poverty
Muskogee Phoenix (10/11/2019) NSU to host Pulitzer Prize-winning author
U.S. News and World Report (10/7/2019) Will Fines and Jail Time Fix the Homelessness Crisis?
Las Vegas Sun (10/2/2019) Las Vegas ordinance to ban public sleeping, resting sparks controversy
Ventura County Star (10/1/2019) California cities challenge court ruling on homeless sleeping, camping in public
Route Fifty (9/30/2019) Cities, States Urge Supreme Court to Hear Homeless Camping Ban Case
Black Star News (9/30/2019) CONGRESSIONAL HOMELESS CAUCUS HOLDS BRIEFING ON HATE CRIMES AND “CRIMINALIZATION” OF HOMELESSNESS
Idaho Statesman (9/27/2019) The city’s lawyers sought ‘friends’ for homeless camping case. 81 entities offered support
Los Angeles Daily News (9/25/2019) L.A. City, Venice petition U.S. Supreme Court to overturn homeless lawsuit decision
Los Angeles Times (9/25/2019) Homeless people could lose the right to sleep on sidewalks if Western cities have their way
Colorado Politics (9/24/2019) Denver will now give notice before sweeping homeless camps
U.S. News and World Report (9/23/2019) 10 Facts About Homelessness in the U.S.
National Public Radio (9/21/2019) California’s Homeless Advocates Puzzled By Trump’s Threats
Los Angeles Times (9/18/2019) Newport considering campaign to encourage people to donate to charity, rather than give to panhandlers
Washington Post (9/18/2019) Democrats hate Trump’s plan for homelessness. But it’s their plan, too.
Bloomberg (9/17/2019) Trump Vows to Take on Homelessness, Starts by Blaming Democrats
City Lab (9/17/2019) L.A. Wanted to Use This Building as a Shelter. Now Trump Does Too.
Telemundo (9/17/2019) Muchas personas han perdido su hogar. Ahora Trump dice que los indigentes “dañan el prestigio” de las ciudades (Many people have lost their home. Now Trump says that the homeless “damage the prestige” of cities)
Produce Blue Book (9/17/2019) Rainier Fruit brings back Pears for Pairs promotion
San Diego Union Tribune (9/17/2019) White House report urges deregulation to reduce homelessness
Changing Laws. Changing Lives.
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (the Law Center) is the only national organization dedicated solely to using the power of the law to end and prevent homelessness. With the support of a large network of pro bono lawyers, we address the immediate and long-term needs of people who are homeless or at risk through outreach and training, advocacy, impact litigation, and public education.