Photo of Gabriela Ines Sevilla

Gabriela Ines Sevilla, Esq.

July 28, 1993 to October 10, 2022 

The entire National Homelessness Law Center Staff and Board are profoundly saddened to share that our beloved colleague and friend, Gabriela (“Gabi”) Ines Sevilla, Youth Attorney at the Law Center, passed away October 10, 2022.  

Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, Gabi was a vigorous advocate for ending homelessness.  In her own words “[she leveraged] her lived experience with homelessness and housing insecurity to fuel her passion to build a future where we truly have housing for all.”  She joined the Law Center in the fall of 2021 as part of a team launching an expanded initiative on ending youth homelessness. She was particularly adept at making genuine connections with people. Her gifted approach was evident in the number of advocates across the country whom she brought together to begin work on legislation to advance access to higher education for unhoused youth and better coordination of housing and services for unhoused youth and young adults. She was passionate about preventing the criminalization of unhoused youth and was working to reform curfew and truancy laws. Her work and some of her story was featured in an ABC News piece earlier this year about college tuition waiver programs for unhoused and foster care youth. Gabi was a member of The Missouri Bar.

As a student at Howard University School of Law, Gabi interned with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless in Washington, DC, where she conducted outreach and provided assistance to persons living in tents and other structures in public spaces.  An unstoppable force for justice, she initiated a GoFundMe campaign for one couple and raised over $40,000 enabling them to rent a home of their own. Her life-changing efforts were covered in media stories from the Washington Post, Univision, Telemundo, the American Bar Association Journal, DCIst, Street Sense and others.  She was awarded Howard University School of Law Student of the Year 2019, Howard University Graduate Student of the Year 2019, and Howard University HUSLer of the Year 2019.  She also received the Award for Highest Grade Achieved in Civil Rights Litigation in 2019. 

Gabi launched her legal career as a 2019-2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Pfizer.  Her fellowship, hosted by the Homeless Persons Representation Project (HPRP), was designed to create a medical-legal partnership between HPRP and Health Care for the Homeless to assist unhoused people who have physical or mental disabilities obtain public benefits.  Called the DREAM (Disability Representation Education Advocacy Medical-legal) Partnership, her fellowship was inspired by her work with the Homeless Action Center in Oakland and Berkeley, CA.  When the COVID pandemic restricted access to medical facilities, Gabi’s work expanded.  In the early months of the pandemic, HPRP launched a statewide hotline to assist families seeking food and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (known as food stamps). Gabi was part of a team staffing the hotline and she assisted families all over Maryland obtain food and the benefits to which they were entitled.   

Gabi co-led, with her partner Munib Lohrasbi, the Unhoused Workgroup of the People’s Commission to Decriminalize Maryland.  In this role, she advocated to decriminalize many of the laws used to oppress unhoused people and was a leading champion for legislation in the 2021 and 2022 Maryland General Assembly Sessions to modify the crime of Failure to Obey a Lawful Order and prevent its application and impact on unhoused people.  Gabi also worked with Strong Schools Maryland advocating for education reform through implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. 

Gabi was a 2015 graduate of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  At Rutgers, Gabi was a member of the Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority and volunteered with the Senator Wynona Lipman Child Advocacy Center (known as Wynona’s House).  As part of her work with Wynona’s House, Gabi created an annual Halloween costume party for children served through Wynona’s House, which the Sorority continues to sponsor to this day. 

Gabi was a “shooting star,” accomplishing more in her short life than many do in decades. With a dimpled smile, her positive energy was infectious.  It was an honor to learn from her and to be in her presence. We will miss her deeply and our hearts go out to her family and all of her loved ones.

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