||A publication of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
|Lawyers Working to End Homelessness
||Vol. 6, No. 9
||From Maria's Desk
With children returning to school, Congress
back in session, and a number of NLCHP
initiatives in the works, this coming fall
presents both challenges and opportunities.
School has started and children who are
homeless face the challenge of maintaining
their school stability and sometimes even
their access to school. Our annual guide to
homeless children's education rights provides
critical, step-by-step information on federal
legal protections and how to enforce them.
here to read Educating Homeless Children &
Youth: A Guide to Their Rights.
We're also working to strengthen these
existing protections. At the end of July,
Congress introduced the Homeless Education
Improvement Act (H.R. 3205) which would:
- Increase funding for homeless children's
- Direct more resources towards helping
them get transportation to school; and
- Improve their access to preschool.
here to help pass
this piece of legislation.
Ensuring children's education is a
major priority for NLCHP. It is
critical to their well-being and an essential
step to preventing future homelessness.
In July, a coalition of national advocacy
drafted a consensus statement outlining five
fundamentals needed to end homelessness and
created a list of ten steps that the federal
government can take right now to help end and
High on our priority list this fall is
defining the next steps in our collaborative
work to push for Congress and the federal
government to enact the Ten Steps to prevent
and end homelessness.
Reauthorization of the HUD McKinney-Vento
programs is a real possibility, and we are
working with our allies to make it happen. We
feel strongly that consensus is possible and
essential. It's time to reauthorize this
critical law - and to move on to the other
parts of our Ten Steps agenda.
here to read the Ten Steps.
Human rights strategies can help advance this
agenda, and building the movement for
the human right to housing in the U.S. is a
key NLCHP priority. This year, our annual National
Forum on the Human Right to Housing will
focus on the local campaigns currently
underway in communities across the country.
The discussion will help to define positive,
proactive advocacy agendas that will make the
human right to housing real here in the U.S.
While reframing U.S. policy to recognize - and
implement - this basic right is a long term
project, human rights strategies can make a
concrete difference right now, while also
creating the building blocks for that
Please share your ideas. Your feedback is
important to us. To endorse the Ten Steps to
end homelessness, e-mail Laurel Weir.
||New Resource and Upcoming Training for Educators
This month, NLCHP released an updated
version of Educating
Homeless Children and Youth: The Guide to
The booklet provides a general overview of
federal laws benefiting homeless students,
including the McKinney-Vento Homeless
Assistance Act, the Child Nutrition Act, and
the Family Educational Rights and Privacy
Act. Educators, service providers,
advocates, homeless families, and homeless
youth have used previous versions of the
publication as an introduction to the law.
here to read the booklet.
Copies can also be ordered via phone at
202-638-2535 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Mark your calendars for the 19th Annual
Conference of the National Association for
the Education of Homeless Children & Youth
(NAEHCY). The event is scheduled for
November 10-13 at the Oregon Convention
Center in Portland, Oregon.
Joy Moses, NLCHP's Children and Youth Staff
Attorney, will be a featured speaker on
several panels of this nation-wide gathering
of educators, services providers, and
advocates. This year's event, "Blazing
Trails and Moving Mountains," includes a
child welfare track that will allow
participants to explore the educational
challenges faced by foster and homeless
children and how to advance solutions.
NLCHP would like to thank the Freddie Mac
Foundation, the Paige Family Foundation, and
our anonymous donor for their generous
support of the Children & Youth Program.
||Congressional Watch: Update on Homeless Children & Youth Legislation
In early September, Congress passed the
College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 (H.R.
2669), which makes federal financial aid more
accessible to homeless unaccompanied youth.
Federal law generally requires students to
complete the Federal Application for Free
Student Aid (FAFSA), which includes a section
about parental income that must be completed
and signed by a parent. For homeless
unaccompanied youth, who no longer live with
their parents, these requirements create a
barrier to receiving financial aid and
enrolling in higher education.
The College Cost Reduction Act amends the
Higher Education Act and will address this
problem by automatically allowing homeless
unaccompanied youth to apply for aid as
"independent students". As independent
students, they will not have to produce a
parental signature or information about
parental income. Instead, verification of
homeless status must be provided by a school
district homeless liaison or a shelter
The legislation will also help homeless and
low-income students by increasing the maximum
amount available through a Pell Grant - a
federal program providing grants to
In other news, the Committee on Education and
Labor in the House of Representatives
released draft legislation for the
reauthorization of the No Child Left
The draft legislation includes proposed
changes to the McKinney-Vento Education for
Homeless Children & Youth program. The
changes largely reflect recommendations
proposed by NLCHP and the National
Association for the Education of Homeless
Children and Youth (NAEHCY) - including
expanding access to preschool programs,
preventing school fees and fines from
disrupting enrollment and attendance, and
improving coordination activities between
educators and social services providers.
Congress is still in the early stages of this
process - both houses must still officially
introduce and consider legislation.
here for more information about NLCHP's
legislative Action Alerts.
||NLCHP to celebrate World Habitat Day with Training on October 1
NLCHP will celebrate the annual World
Habitat Day by hosting a training about
housing and human rights on October 1, from
The training will be a free, teleconferenced
introduction to human rights as they apply to
housing issues. In keeping with the World
Habitat Day theme, "A Safe City is a Just
City," the training will cover various issues,
including promoting affordable housing using
a human rights-based framework and combating
the criminalization of homelessness with
This training will serve as an introduction
for people new to the concepts and as a
refresher for those already familiar with
them. It will also lay the basis for more
advanced discussions at NLCHP's National
Forum on the Human Right to Housing on
here to register for the October 1 training.
NLCHP would like to thank the Mertz
Gilmore Foundation and the US Human Rights
Fund for their generous support of the Human
||Trainings for Attorneys and Service Providers in Maryland and Virginia
NLCHP is conducting a training entitled,
"Improving Housing and School Stability for
Domestic Violence Survivors and Their
Children" at locations in Maryland and
Virginia in October. The training is designed
to assist service providers, advocates, and
attorneys who help families affected by
The training includes information about
recent changes to the Violence Against Women
Act that can protect survivors from eviction
and increase their access to housing. In
addition, it includes information about
McKinney-Vento Act provisions that ensure
that children can easily enroll in school and
maintain school placements while protecting
the privacy of the families.
The Maryland training will take place on
Thursday, October 4, from 1-5pm at the
University of Maryland Law School in
Baltimore. This training is cosponsored
by the Public Justice Center of
Maryland, the UMD Student Health Law
Organization, and the UMD Women's Bar
here to register for the Baltimore training.
The first Virginia training will take place
on Tuesday, October 16, from 1-5pm at
Virginia Commonwealth University in
The final training will take place on
Wednesday, October 17, from 1-5pm at George
Mason University Law School in Arlington, VA,
cosponsored by the GMU Association for Public
Registration for the Virginia trainings is
not yet open. Keep checking the NLCHP website
for more information.
NLCHP thanks The Waitt Family
Foundation and the Freddie Mac Foundation for
their support of the Domestic Violence
||NLCHP Program Director Appointed to ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty
This summer, Tulin Ozdeger, NLCHP Civil
Rights Director, was appointed to the
American Bar Association (ABA)
Homelessness and Poverty.
The 13 members of the commission are
typically appointed for a one-year term and
then reappointed for up to three years.
According to the ABA, the commission is
- Encouraging and assisting in development
of bar and law school pro bono programs that
provide legal and other services to homeless
and near-homeless people;
- Educating members of the bar and the
public about legal and other problems of poor
and homeless people and ways in which lawyers
can assist in addressing them;
- Training lawyers to provide pro bono
legal assistance to homeless and
- Working with ABA entities on issues
arising within their jurisdiction that affect
poor and homeless people; and
- Working with state and federal executive
branches and legislative bodies to address the
problems of poor and homeless people.
To achieve its mission, the Commission
sponsors and participates in training
programs; provides technical assistance to
attorneys and advocates; and meets with
national, state, and local advocates for
homeless people about promoting and
developing pro bono programs and homeless
courts. NLCHP founder and Executive Director
Maria Foscarinis played a key role in the
creation of the Commission.
As the NLCHP Civil Rights Director, Tulin
works with advocates to challenge city
practices that criminalize homelessness. She
serves as counsel in litigation, files amicus
briefs, and serves as a resource for
attorneys pursuing litigation. Tulin also
writes reports, articles, and other
publications to provide legal guidance and
information about the civil rights issues of
here to learn more about the ABA Commission
on Homelessness and Poverty.
||Working Together to Protect the Civil Rights of Homeless People
NLCHP and the National Coalition for the
Homeless (NCH) recently met with U.S.
Interagency Council for the Homeless
(ICH) Executive Director Philip
Mangano, Deputy Director Mary Ellen
Hombs, and National Team Leader
Michael German to discuss how the ICH
and advocates can work together to combat the
criminalization of homelessness and promote
more constructive alternatives.
Mr. Mangano noted that the ICH has been
informally advocating against punitive
measures in cities' approaches to
homelessness. But given the persistence of
criminalization measures, noted by NLCHP and
NCH, the ICH agreed to take more formal steps
to advocate against criminalization measures.
The ICH agreed to incorporate information
about the negative consequences of
criminalization measures and constructive
alternatives to criminalization in its public
education materials and events and to work
with NLCHP, NCH, and other advocacy groups to
identify communities that need particular
work in this area.
NLCHP and NCH plan to continue to meet
regularly with the ICH and hope other
advocacy groups will join these meetings to
help address broader issues related to
||Homeless People Incarcerated for Witnessing a Crime
This story was submitted by Adam Arms,
Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP)
Legal Advisor and Partner with McKanna
Bishop Joffe & Sullivan, LLP.
Earlier this year, a state court judge in
Medford, Oregon, incarcerated three homeless
people in order to secure their attendance as
witnesses in a homicide case. Using Oregon's
material witness statutes, the judge held
them in custody for over two months.
Last month, after much negotiation, their
court-appointed defense attorneys, with legal
assistance from WRAP, arranged a release plan
that their judge accepted.
Despite the fact that two of the homeless
people lived in the community, promised to
comply with all subpoenas, and had no history
of intentionally failing to appear in court,
the judge declared that they should be kept
in jail indefinitely pending the defendant's
trial. At no point were the homeless people
charged with committing any crime themselves.
They were held solely as witnesses.
The judge based his decision, in part, on his
finding that they "were not forthcoming" with
police and did not immediately report that a
potential crime had been committed.
Homeless advocates say that some officers'
threatening behavior and harassment causes
homeless people to distrust police officers
in general. In addition, advocates say that
the judge focused on the witnesses' homeless
status - or, rather, the inevitable
consequences of being homeless - to render
Through its work on this case, WRAP
discovered other instances across the nation
of homeless people being held indefinitely as
material witnesses. Wrap believes that this
type of practice is "enemy-combatant"-type
treatment, writ small, with little or
questionable due process and indefinite
incarceration without charge. WRAP will
continue to monitor and contest this
unconstitutional and inhumane treatment of
||2007 McKinney-Vento Art Contest Award Winners Named
NLCHP named the winners of this year's
children's art contest for the 9th annual
McKinney-Vento Awards Event. Six-year-old
Christina will be awarded the top
prize - a
$50 gift card to Target, for her painting
entitled "Grandma's House".
Christina said she drew her grandmother's
house because she loves her so much and
because "it's good to have houses to visit".
Christina's painting will be used in
promotional materials for the McKinney-Vento
Awards to help raise awareness of NLCHP's
work and of the issues of homelessness and
Traivion, 9, and James, 10,
runners-up. Traivion created a 3-D abstract
self-portrait and James created a drawing of
himself and a swimming pool. James said he
drew the swimming pool because he believes
swimming is a great way for kids to have fun
and get exercise. Both were awarded $25 gift
cards to Target.
All of the submissions from this year's
contest, and some from previous years, will
be on display at the McKinney-Vento Awards
Event on October 24.
NLCHP hosts the McKinney-Vento Event each
year to recognize individuals and law firms
that have advanced solutions to homelessness
and poverty. These awards also pay tribute to
two outstanding national leaders, Stewart B.
McKinney and Bruce F. Vento, who were the
primary sponsors of the McKinney-Vento
Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. This
landmark legislation is the first - and still
only - major federal legislation providing
government assistance to homeless Americans
to help them become self sufficient.
here for more information about the 2007
McKinney-Vento Awards ceremony.
||Thanks to Our LEAP Firms
LEAP is a national legal community
philanthropic effort to help homeless and
poor American achieve self-sufficiency. LEAP
members provide financial support and pro
bono legal services to help NLCHP prevent and
NLCHP would like to thank our current LEAP
Baker & Hostetler LLP; Fried, Frank, Harris,
Shriver & Jacobson LLP; Goodwin Procter LLP;
Hogan & Hartson LLP; Jenner & Block LLP;
Jones Day; King & Spalding LLP; Morrison &
Foerster Foundation; O'Melveny & Myers LLP;
Sidley Austin LLP; Sullivan & Cromwell LLP;
Visit our website at www.nlchp.org! Contact us at (202) 638-2535 or email us at
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