The past three months have been terribly challenging for all of us. We are so grateful for the support and commitment that you and all the friends of homeless and poor Americans have shown during this time of national tragedy and crisis.
At the Law Center offices in downtown Washington, we were fortunate not to suffer any immediate personal loses. But as advocates, we are especially aware of the impact of the crisis on poor and homeless Americans.
Increased security measures mean that those living on the streets are even more likely than before to be rousted from their refuge of last resort. Increased
demand for emergency services means even fewer
resources are available. And the economic downturn, already in the works but made worse by the crisis, has affected the most vulnerable first: indeed, formerly homeless people have been among the first to lose their jobs.
As national policy and funds focus on war and fighting terrorism, many fear that funds and support for badly needed social programs will be withdrawn, and that support for such efforts will disappear.
But we should not simply accept the withdrawal of
funds to meet critical social needs: indeed, these needs are now more important than ever, as more and more people lose their jobs as a result of the economic downturn. Rather, we must insist that the responses to September 11 also incorporate a commitment to
address social injustice: the horror of the devastation it wreaked does not take away the everyday horror of homelessness and hunger in the midst of plenty.
Indeed, the September catastrophe confirms that our world is more interdependent than ever, and that it is imperative to find a way for all to share the planet in peace. While terrorism must be condemned and fought, gross social injustice must also be condemned and eliminated.
At the Law Center we are pursuing our work on behalf of homeless Americans with renewed vigor. As you will read in these pages, over the past few months we have seen major successes in each of our projects: on behalf of homeless children, mentally disabled
homeless people, and those homeless people living on the streets. We are preparing to kick off a new
national membership network that will strengthen the advocacy capacity of communities across the country, provide up-to-date information and support, and also provide a forum for all of us who care about social
justice to come together.
Now more than ever, our voices must-and can-make a difference. Thank you so much for your continued commitment and support. And all best wishes for a
safe and peaceful holiday season.
Positive Changes on the Horizon
The recent focus on our Homeless Children?s Project has been the pending reauthorization of the education provisions of the McKinney-Vento Act. Project attorney Patricia Julianelle and many other dedicated
advocates have worked closely with Congress to draft the law and usher it through the legislative process. While the events of September 11 have delayed the passage of the law, we hope to see it signed this month. The new law will significantly increase the rights of students who are homeless.
To ensure implementation of the new law, Ms. Julianelle is developing educational documents collaboratively with other national organizations and will be taking to the road to bring the law to families, educators, providers and advocates. She will speak at state and regional meetings in Colorado, New York, Oklahoma and elsewhere, as well as national legal aid, service provider and child welfare conferences. Leading workshops is not new to Ms. Julianelle, as she has conducted over 20 trainings on the McKinney-Vento Act in her ten months at the Law Center. In response to a training she conducted at a continuum of care meeting, the county?s Homeless Prevention Coordinator remarked: ?Your presentation helped make the education of homeless students a priority for our community.?
Along with her national legislative work and training efforts, Ms. Julianelle continues to advocate for
individual children who need help. She has worked with local attorneys, educators and providers to enforce the McKinney-Vento Act around the country. For example, Ms. Julianelle worked to ensure that a school district in Maine provided transportation for a young boy with autism to finish the school year at his school. The child?s caseworker exclaimed: ?Kenneth would not have been able to go back to the school where he was comfortable and familiar with the day-to-day routines if it were not for the intervention of Patricia Julianelle. She had a tough case as the school was adamant in their refusal to help. I am sending this letter of thanks and support for her work with this homeless family that was unable to get any help from any other resource that we contacted.?
To help remedy the lack of local resources in Maine, Ms. Julianelle personally met with several teams of lawyers in the state, who agreed to represent homeless students in the future. Ms. Julianelle is replicating this work in other states around the country. She has provided training and resources to over one hundred attorneys and plans to reach many more in the coming year. Ms. Julianelle also continues to work with the U.S. Department of Education, seeking to increase its involvement in enforcing and implementing the McKinney-Vento Act.
In November, Ms. Julianelle was fortunate enough to speak directly to children about the many challenges facing families and youth in homeless situations. She was a Homelessness Awareness Month speaker for D.C. Public Schools and led two seminars at the National Youth Leadership Forum, where student
participants commented: ?She made me think deeply and critically about these issues;? and ?This seminar was the best part of the forum so far.? Such direct contact with students reminds Ms. Julianelle of the
meaning and value of her work.
Many readers received our most recent booklet, ?The Education of Students with Disabilities in Homeless Situations.? Over 3500 copies of this informative, readable booklet have been distributed to date.
Readers are invited to contact Ms. Julianelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the Law Center for assistance
with issues regarding the education of homeless children and youth.
Law Center Helps DC Homeless Workers
Assists Those Eligible to Recieve Earned Income Tax Credit
This Winter, the Law Center will once again be helping eligible homeless workers in DC to obtain the Earned Income Credit, a refundable federal tax credit for low-income workers. Working with a network of trained volunteers, the Law Center will partner with local shelters and other service facilities to provide free tax preparation clinics for working homeless persons.
While many homeless persons are eligible -- as many as 40% have worked within a given month -- some of those who are eligible do not receive it because they do not know about it or have difficulty filing their tax returns. The credits can be valuable: a single individual can receive up to $364 and a family with
dependent children can receive up to $4,008.
The Law Center will be working with local shelters and drop-in centers in the District of Columbia in the early part of 2002 to set-up tax preparation clinics for working homeless residents.
The Law Center is looking for additional accountants who would be willing to
volunteer their services to help working homeless individuals and families.
Are you able to volunteer? Send an email to email@example.com for more volunteer information.
Massachusetts Man Bicycled Cross Country for Homeless
Raises Awareness of Homeless People?s Needs and Funds for NLCHP
In September, 2001 Joseph McColley - a former English teacher from Massachusetts - linked up with the Law Center to support the Center?s work using the law to help a segment of society that has no voice and to
promote awareness of homelessness across the country. Flying from Boston to San Diego, California, he
embarked on a two-month long bicycle ride across the country through the Southwest desert heat, Midwest thunderstorms, Western Pennsylvania snow and the uncertainty following the September 11th terrorist attacks on our nation. Throughout his travels he kept a journal that was published weekly by The Eagle Tribune in his hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts.
A supporter of the Law Center wrote, ?Joseph, thank you for following your heart - you saw a need and were willing to do something to make a difference! Your journal published weekly was wonderful - it allowed us to travel with you. I also thank you for your courage and for not giving up after September 11, 2001. Thank you for trying to raise awareness of homelessness and the needs of people in this great country?.
Introducing NLCHP's National Membership Network
Network Provides Forum for Individuals, Law Firms or Corporations to Interact with Each Other and NLCHP Project Attorneys
The National Law Center is pleased to announce the National Membership Network, which is developed and designed to provide the foundation for legal support where none now exists ? ensuring essential
assistance and resources for homeless families, children, and their advocates at local and community levels.
The Membership Network will provide solutions to access problems, explanation of rights granted to homeless children, access to housing and public benefits information, and easy access to legal resources.
Bringing together groups in a national membership network will afford a powerful voice to our work, and strengthen efforts to influence opinion and affect policy change on behalf of homeless families,
children and individuals? greatly enhancing the reach and potential impact of our work.
The Membership Network will provide the legal community, service and shelter providers, educators, and communities at-large with legal information and assistance including; access to legal resources, referrals, on-line assistance, fact sheets, manuals and much, much more.
You Won?t Want to Miss the Opportunity to Stay Up-To-Date with the
Latest and Most Current Information!
Add your name to the list & receive the
official kick-off announcement by emailing your name/address information to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 202-638-2535 ext. 200.
SSI Project Makes Progress on Hill
Changes in Bill Would Require Social Security Administration to Develop a Plan to Better Assist the Homeless
This September, the Law Center?s Social Security Income (SSI) Project worked closely with staff from the Senate Appropriations Committee, to insert language into the Labor, HHS, Education appropriations bill. The language requires the Social Security Administration (SSA) to develop a plan to better serve homeless persons, and to report to Congress on the status and content of this plan when the agency submits its fiscal year 2003 budget request. Similar language was also inserted into the House version of the bill. Currently, the bill is in a House-Senate conference committee, but the final version is expected to include NLCHP?s
language. This language is important because, for the first time, SSA will be forced to detail specific steps that it will take to better assist homeless persons.
As a follow-up to this legislative language, the Project worked closely with several other national
organizations, to develop a detailed list of policy recommendations for SSA. The Project has requested a meeting with the SSA Commissioner, in order to present these recommendations, and to urge the agency to work with the Law Center, and other national groups, to implement these proposals and improve service to homeless persons.
In addition, the Project has worked extensively with the Department of Health and Human Services. The Project received a HHS grant, to prepare a training manual for case managers who serve homeless persons with mental impairments. The manual, to be completed by July, 2002, will teach case managers how to help their clients obtain SSI benefits. Finally, Jeremy Rosen, the Project staff attorney, will be making a
presentation at a December HHS conference on homelessness and mental illness. Mr. Rosen?s topic will be how homeless service providers can help their clients obtain SSI and food stamp benefits.
If you have questions, need assistance, or wish to receive a copy of any materials referenced in this article, please contact Jeremy Rosen at 202.638.2535, ext. 207 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
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