NLCHP News: Foreclosure Crisis and Voting Rights
||A publication of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
|Lawyers Working to End Homelessness
||Vol. 7, No. 10
||From Maria's Desk
This month's "bailout" -- or "financial rescue" -- should
give poverty advocates pause.
Consider the mortgage crisis underlying the financial
meltdown. People are losing their homes, and some
are literally becoming homeless as a result. We are
getting reports from providers around the country that
shelters, soup kitchens and other resources are
already stretched to capacity.
These newly homeless people are facing the same
challenges and hardships as those already
homeless. During this election season, and with this
and other critical issues facing our country, the right to
vote is more important than ever. But as I noted in a
ecently published letter to the New York Times,
the very people who are most directly and harshly
affected--those who are now becoming or already
were homeless--are often excluded from the process.
What's more, consider the intensity of the political
attention paid to the financial crisis, not to mention the
$700 billion to address it. Imagine if a fraction of the
attention and resources were devoted to solving the
human crisis of homelessness. Imagine if we could
elevate human needs - and rights - to the same level
as financial ones.
Political representation and strength are crucial. This
month NLCHP and others have been promoting our
voter registration campaign, to
make sure that homeless people have a vote and a
voice. To strengthen our collective voice, national
organizations have also joined forces on a Pledge
to End Homelessness Campaign for candidates
for office. and we are working on joint policy proposals
for the new Administration.
We want to hear from you! Send your thoughts and
ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
||Voting Rights on CNN
During the last week of September, more than 50
groups around the country participated in National
Homeless and Low Income Voter Registration Week.
NLCHP's Civil Rights Director, Tulin Ozdeger, and
Legal Intern, Luis Rodriguez, were featured on CNN
as they provided workshops on registering homeless
voters. Click here to see the 2-minute
||Court Victory in Orlando Food-Sharing Case
On September 26, 2008 a federal district court judge
found that an Orlando law restricting sharing food in
public parks violated the rights of two groups who
share food with homeless individuals. The court ruled
that Orlando law violated plaintiffs' rights to free
speech and to exercise one's religious beliefs under
the First Amendment. Orlando Food Not Bombs and
First Vagabonds Church, represented by the ACLU,
challenged the ordinance. NLCHP filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.
The ordinance at issue required groups sharing food
with 25 or more people in public parks to obtain
permits and limited groups to only two such food
sharing events per year. Penalties for violating the
ordinance included a fine of up to $500 and/or
imprisonment up to 60 days. Earlier this year, a Food
Not Bombs member was arrested for violating the
ordinance, but ultimately was acquitted.
"This decision is a victory for food providers and
homeless persons alike," said Tulin Ozdeger, NLCHP
Civil Rights Director. "Hopefully, cities will reconsider
restricting food providers and try to find a better
approach to homelessness than just punishing those
trying to help."
||Housing a Constitutional Right in Ecuador
On September 28, Ecuador ratified a new constitution
including the right to housing, the right to the city, and
the right to water and sanitation.
Ecuador follows South Africa as the second country to
make housing a constitutional right, but Ecuador's is
the first constitution in the world to recognize other
components of that right, including the right to a
secure and healthy habitat, the right to the city and the
right to water and sanitation.
NLCHP's international partner, the Centre on Housing
Rights and Evictions (COHRE), together with various
social organizations from Latin America, lobbied over
a six month period for the recognition of these rights
and participated in the preparation of proposals for
Constitutional Articles on Housing, the City, Water,
Public Services, territorial structuring and participatory
By incorporating these rights into its Constitution,
Ecuador ensures that its national law is in line with
the international human rights obligations it has
assumed. In practical terms, it also implies a greater
degree of legitimacy and accountability, given that all
of the policies and laws henceforth adopted in
Ecuador will have to accord with these constitutional
In South Africa, several important judicial decisions
interpreting their constitutional right to housing have
greatly advanced international jurisprudence in this
area. NLCHP will monitor developments as new laws
are passed and Ecuador's judiciary interprets this
right for potential beneficial language that could be
adopted by U.S. advocates.
||Welcome to New Board Member
We are pleased to welcome Father Alexander
Karloutsos to the NLCHP Board of Directors. He is
the Assistant to Archbishop Demetrios of America and
Spiritual Advisor to the Order of Saint Andrew Archons
of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America. He serves
as Special Assistant to the Archbishop working as
liaison with heads of churches, the White House, the
Congress, state and local officials, Greek American
organizations, political action, religious freedom and
human rights groups. He is also the pastor of Kimisis
Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church of the
Hamptons and serves as the Orthodox Chaplain for
the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
||Goodbye to Bob Nasdor
Legal Director Bob Nasdor is leaving NLCHP on
October 17, after almost two years of commuting from
Boston to Washington, D.C. We thank him for his
contributions, especially for being instrumental in
creating our new Wiki site, and wish him well.
We are grateful to Deputy Legal Director Catherine
Bendor for stepping in as Acting Legal Director.
||Upcoming Audio Trainings
Free Audio Training: Thursday, November 13,
2:00 - 3:00 pm ET
Gender Discrimination and Using Anti-
Discrimination Laws to Protect Victims of Domestic
NOTE: This is NOT the National Forum on the Human
Right to Housing. You do NOT need to fill out or pay
the fee listed on the confirmation page.
Click here to register for this event.
||Shop Online to Benefit NLCHP!
As the holiday shopping season approaches,
remember that you can support NLCHP when you
Order items through iGive.com, GiveBackAmerica.org or Go
odShop.com, choose NLCHP as your charity, and
a percentage of the sale will go to NLCHP, at no
additional cost to you! Hundreds of popular retailers
participate through these sites.
At GiveBackAmerica.org, you can even book
your holiday travel, with a percentage of proceeds
||We're on Facebook!
||Help the Homeless Walkathon
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
is a beneficiary of the 2008 Fannie Mae Help the
Homeless Walkathon. We would like to invite you to
join our team and walk with us in Washington, DC in
support of NLCHP.
to join our team. If you are unable to join us on
November 22, please support our team with a
donation. Your contribution goes directly to NLCHP.
||NLCHP Receives Grant
NLCHP would like to thank the Community
Foundation of the National Capital Region for its
award of a $15,000 grant in support our of Wiki
project, a collaborative online service created by and
for advocates and service providers working to end
NLCHP is a 501(c)(3) organization. Visit our website at www.nlchp.org! Contact us at (202) 638-2535 or email us at