An Inspired Team
The Law Center leverages its legal expertise and the pro bono power of the private bar
in its fight to establish a right to housing in the United States.
About the Law Center
The National Homelessness Law Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and seeks to serve as the legal arm of the national movement to end and prevent homelessness. We believe that the human rights to adequate housing, healthcare, food, and education lie at the heart of human dignity and we envision a world where no one has to go without the basics of human survival. While seeking universal enjoyment of human rights, we also understand that homelessness disparately impacts Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities, and those living at the intersections of multiple forms of marginalization and our policy responses must consciously and affirmatively address those inequities.
Since 1989, we have leveraged the power of the public and private bar to amplify the voices and concerns of those directly impacted by homelessness & poverty. Through policy advocacy, public education, and impact litigation, the Law Center’s national programs address the root causes of homelessness and meet the immediate and long-term needs of those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Through training, technical support, and network building, the Law Center also enhances the capacity of local and national groups to become more effective partners in advocating for the needs and rights of people experiencing homelessness.
Today, our team includes attorneys with lived expertise of homelessness, poverty, racism and other forms of discrimination, as well as substantive expertise in housing, civil rights, human rights, public benefits, and youth issues, and other staff with expertise in communications, non-profit development, and operations. Though the Law Center’s staff is small, we leverage four to six times our budget each year in volunteer pro bono legal services, multiplying our impact on behalf of people experiencing homelessness.
The National Homelessness Law Center was founded in 1989 as the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty by Maria Foscarinis, a lawyer who initially volunteered to represent homeless families on a pro bono basis. She was a principal architect of the 1987 McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the first major federal legislation to address homelessness and founded the Law Center to help ensure the legislation would be properly implemented.
Our vision is for an end to homelessness in America. A home for every family and individual will be a right and not a privilege; a reality, not just a goal.
The Law Center is the only national advocacy organization dedicated solely to using the power of the law to end and prevent homelessness in America. With the support of a large network of pro bono lawyers, we use our legal expertise to help pass, implement and enforce laws addressing the immediate and long-term needs of those who are homeless or at risk. In partnership with state and local advocates, we work towards strengthening the social safety net through advocacy and advocacy training, public education, and impact litigation.
The Law Center is founded on the belief that in a society that has enough for all, no one should have to go without the basic necessities of life. Everyone should have equal access to justice and opportunity. Specifically:
- We believe in the inherent value and dignity of all human beings.
- We understand that people of color, the LBGTQ+ community, youth, individuals with disabilities, low-income, and other vulnerable groups are disproportionately and uniquely impacted by homelessness.
- We believe that housing is a human right, as recognized by the United Nations and several countries around the world.
- We believe it is possible to end homelessness in the United States. We are committed to that goal as well as to reducing the harmful effects of homelessness on those who experience it until our ultimate goal is met.
- We strive to reflect the voices and experiences of homeless and at risk people in our work and to support their own advocacy.
- We believe that our advocacy is most powerful in collaboration with others, and we partner with pro bono attorneys and firms, other national and local organizations, grass roots advocates, and people who are homeless to amplify our capacity and leverage each contributor’s unique ideas, skills, and resources.