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NLCHP Reports Record Legal Cases in 2012 for Pro Bono Legal Advocacy Efforts for Homelessness

(Source: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty) –  Donated legal services to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty topped $6 million in 2012, a record breaking contribution to the organization, which serves as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to prevent and end homelessness.

Each year, more than 3.5 million people spend time living on the streets or in shelters, including 1.3 million children. Almost 7 million more are doubled-up — with no home of their own — due to economic hardship. These numbers are now increasing dramatically, as the foreclosure crisis and unemployment push more and more Americans out of their homes. From 2007 to 2010, family homelessness increased by 20%.

The legal community is responding vigorously and generously to the growing crisis. In 2012, 21 law firms worked with NLCHP on 52 pro bono matters, dedicating 13,081 hours of professional services valued at $6,131,318. Of these firms, 12 were members of NLCHP’s Lawyers’ Executive Advisory Partners program, through which firms and in house legal departments provide both pro bono and financial support to NLCHP’s programs.

“The private bar is a crucial partner in advancing solutions to homelessness in America,” said Maria Foscarinis, founder and executive director of NLCHP. “The support and active engagement of the private bar is crucial to our ability to carry out our work, and that support broke all prior records in 2012,” she added. The organization’s 2012 budget was just under $1.3 million; the donated legal services multiplied that budget six times over.

In 2012, NLCHP pro bono partners undertook critically important work, including:

Protecting homeless persons’ fundamental voting rights through litigation challenging Wisconsin’s voter ID law, which would have disenfranchised thousands of homeless voters; the law was enjoined prior to the November election.
Ensuring government transparency by litigating to enforce Title V of the McKinney-Vento Act, a law that serves 2.4 million homeless people each year; in a procedural victory, a federalcourt ruled the Obama Administration must release hundreds of documents demonstrating compliance.
Documenting the bureaucratic barriers that prevent hundreds of thousands of homeless Americans from accessing Social Security disability benefits, and recommending more efficient procedures that also improve access.
Helping dozens of individual homeless children enroll in school, overcoming barriers based on their homeless status, and improving policies and practices to remove barriers for thousands more. Through NLCHP’s innovative Project LEARN, law firm lawyers assisted families and educated their communities about the education rights of homeless children.
Challenging Dallas laws that severely limit the ability of faith-based groups seeking to offer food to homeless and poor people in public places. The City has suspended enforcement pending the outcome of the case, which was tried last summer.

About National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

NLCHP, based in Washington, D.C., is the only national legal advocacy organization dedicated solely to this cause. Through impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education, NLCHP addresses the root causes of homelessness at the local, state, and national levels, working with local level groups across the country. Working in partnership with the private bar, NLCHP makes a crucial difference in the lives of millions of homeless men, women, and children across the country.

Maria Foscarinis founded NLCHP in 1989, after first getting involved in the issue of homelessness through a pro bono case representing homeless families while working as a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York. Pro bono partnerships have been integral to the organization’s work since its founding; last year, another former pro bono lawyer, Heather Johnson, left her firm to join its staff. Johnson had been a litigation associate at Latham & Watkins, where she worked on a suit challenging Boise’s anti-camping ordinance.

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty is a leader in the movement to end and prevent homelessness. To achieve its goal, the Law Center uses three main strategies: policy advocacy, public education, and impact litigation.

Source: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty


About Alex Ferreras

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