Annual McKinney-Vento Awards Honorees

Senator Al Franken

Senator Al Franken was born on May 21, 1951, and grew up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. In 1973, he graduated from Harvard. Before running for the Senate, Al spent 37 years as a comedy writer, author, and radio talk show host.  In 2008, Al was elected to the Senate as a member of the DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) Party from Minnesota. He currently sits on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee; the Judiciary Committee; the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Committee on Indian Affairs.
 
Senator Franken led work in the U.S. Senate to enact the housing provisions of the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, working with the Law Center and other allies, to protect domestic violence survivors from homelessness. Thanks to his leadership, these protections were extended to 4 million additional households; domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and these new provisions will make a difference in the lives of millions of vulnerable women and their children.

 
Congresswoman Gwen Moore
 
Congresswoman Gwen Moore was elected to represent Wisconsin's 4th Congressional District in 2004 making her the first African American elected to Congress from the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the House Committee on Financial Services, and serves on two subcommittees including the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises and the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee. Rep. Moore also sits on the House Budget Committee, which oversees the federal budget process, reviews all bills and resolutions on the budget, and monitors agencies and programs funded from the budget process. She is also a member of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and is currently a Regional Whip for the Democratic Caucus. Rep. Moore has made it her mission to give voice to the voiceless both domestically and abroad.
 
Congresswoman Moore led work in the U.S. House of Representatives to enact the housing provisions of the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, working with the Law Center and other allies, to protect domestic violence survivors from homelessness. Thanks to her leadership, these protections were extended to 4 million additional households; domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and these new provisions will make a difference in the lives of millions of vulnerable women and their children.
 

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
 
Akin Gump is a global law firm that pursues excellence by anticipating client needs, by shaping the playing field, by innovating solutions. Its pro bono commitment to serving clients in need irrespective of ability to pay is unequivocal, from asylum applicants fleeing persecution to U.S. servicemen and-women, from the indigent in our nation's largest cities to disadvantaged schoolchildren working to better themselves.
 
In 2011, Akin Gump's Dallas office, took on pro bono representation, together with the Law Center, of the plaintiffs in Big Hart Ministries Association, Inc. a.k.a Big Heart Ministries, et al.v. City of Dallas, before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The case challenged the City's ordinances that prevented faith based groups from offering hot meals in public places to the City's homeless and poor people, a service they carried out as part of their ministry and belief. The Akin team worked with the Law Center to take the case to trial and won a resounding victory that makes a difference in the lives of the 6,000 to 10,000 Dallas residents who are homeless and sets a national precedent that helps counter this alarming trend in cities across the country.


Judy Curtis

“No one wants to listen to you if you don’t have the education or the money,” Judy Curtis explains, recalling the terrifying moment in 2010 when her landlord entered foreclosure and she was pressed to immediately leave her home. The bank would not listen to her pleas or answer any of her questions. Instead, it provided conflicting and misleading notices to vacate, leaving her confused about her options and unsure where to turn. When the bank went to court to immediately evict Ms. Curtis and her children, she found herself in any mother’s worst nightmare - on the brink of homelessness.

Ms. Curtis sought the legal advice of attorneys at the Public Justice Center in Baltimore, a key partner with the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty in renters’ rights advocacy. Ms. Curtis learned that renters have federal rights under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (“PTFA”), including the right to a minimum of 90 days’ notice to move before eviction. Rather than surrender, Ms. Curtis bravely stood up for her legal rights in a groundbreaking appeal, supported by a Law Center amicus brief, arguing that the bank had violated the PTFA. The court agreed, finding the bank had violated federal law by failing to provide Ms. Curtis with a clear 90-day notice to vacate before filing an eviction.

This important legal victory, offering help to millions of renters just like her, would not have been possible without the courage of Ms. Curtis. She is an inspiration, and her story is a reminder of why protecting renters in the foreclosure crisis is critical to the prevention of homelessness.