June, 2020

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Dear Friends—

I hope you are finding strength during this challenging time.

Earlier this month, I released a public statement on behalf of the Law Center condemning the recent brutal killings George FloydBreonna TaylorTony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery—and of so many others before them.

As we said then, as an organization committed to using the power of the law to end homelessness in America, the Law Center has a special responsibility to also call out and fight the structural racism that led to their killings.

This means not only standing in solidarity, but also fighting for policies to make real change.

The Justice in Policing Accountability Act, calls for much needed reforms, including—for the first time—a federal requirement to report on the housing status of civilians against whom force is used by law enforcement, in addition to race, gender, and other characteristics. This data will help us better bring to light the disparate impact policing has on people of color who are experiencing homelessness. While we believe much more is needed, we support this bill as a significant step forward.

We have long supported the call to redirect resources away from law enforcement and to community needs, including in the Housing Not Handcuffs Campaign, now supported by more than 1600 organizations and individuals. In particular, law enforcement should not be charged with addressing homelessness—resources now being spent on criminalizing homelessness should instead be spent on housing and community support, as noted by the Washington Post editorial board in its call to Defund the Police, citing our report.

We know that deliberate, discriminatory laws and policies have played a direct role in causing homelessness, and in causing people of color to be homeless in numbers far disproportionate to their numbers in the general population. We know laws criminalizing homelessness, rooted in Jim Crow, contribute to the gross over-representation of people of color in the criminal justice system. We know racist policies drive unequal access to resources, devaluing the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

Redirecting police resources away from criminalization and to housing is essential not only to ending homelessness but also to fighting racism.

We look forward to working with our allies on the ground, old and new, as well as to allies in Congress to push these demands forward.

Maria Foscarinis

Founder & Executive Director

In Memory of Nikita Price

Nikita embodied the principle of Picture the Homeless’ motto of “nothing about us, without us” –or as he put it, “If you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu” –ensuring that the views of directly-impacted people experiencing homelessness were part of the organizing and policy conversation to end homelessness. He was an active part of the development of the national Housing Not Handcuffs campaign, and celebrated the successes of others even more than sharing the (many) successes of his own organizing. Pity the person who made an enemy of him, as he did not hold his tongue in advocating for his fellow homeless New Yorkers, but if he counted you as a friend, you could always be sure he would step up for whatever was being asked. The hole from his loss, both emotionally and in the advocacy space, will not be easy to fill, but we commit to carrying on his fight, side-by-side with our partners experiencing homelessness.

Please consider helping honor Nikita by contributing to this fund to help cover expenses for arrangements.


Law Center Welcomes New Arrivals

Our team is expanding, and we could not be happier to introduce these incredible new members:

Sarah Riley serves as the Development and Communications VISTA, focusing on expanding the Law Center’s network and improving the reach and capacity of the organization. She recently graduated from the College of William & Mary with a B.A. in Public Policy. She specifically enjoyed mentoring incarcerated youth while in school. This sparked her passion for working in the non-profit world. Having focused on issues of hunger and homelessness in the past, Sarah joins the Law Center with experience in the field and hopeful optimism that progress is possible.

Sarah is originally from Alexandria, Virginia, where she grew up understanding the power of laws and policies. She hopes to attend law school in the coming years and is eager to pursue a career in public interest.

Siobhan Allen is the Law Center’s Legal Intern for Summer 2020. She is a rising 2L at Columbia Law School and received her B.A. from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 2019. During her first year at Columbia Law, she participated in the LaLSA Asylum and Refugee Law Moot Court and was a James Kent Scholar.

Siobhan has previously worked with The Legal Aid Society in Manhattan in their Criminal Defense Division and completed the Gallatin Global Fellowship on Urban Practice focusing on domestic workers’ rights in Madrid, Spain, and New York, New York. Siobhan is excited to bring her experience in immigration law and criminal law to the Law Center this summer. She is thankful for the opportunity to use these skills to aid people experiencing homelessness.

Nora Reavey-Gilbert is a Tisch Summer Fellow working to create diversity and inclusion materials for the Law Center. Through her research, Nora hopes to compile resources that include strategies and practices to benefit outreach, recruitment, and retention at the Law Center.

Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Nora is a rising junior studying Sociology and English at Tufts University. Her focus lies in sociological research, which she has explored through two research assistant positions during her time at Tufts. Through previous work with a large-scale audit study examining hiring discrimination, Nora gained an interest in workplace diversity. Nora is looking forward to this practical hands-on opportunity after her involvement in the academic and research aspects of this topic.

Changing Laws. Changing Lives.

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (the Law Center) is the only national organization dedicated solely to using the power of the law to end and prevent homelessness. With the support of a large network of pro bono lawyers, we address the immediate and long-term needs of people who are homeless or at risk through outreach and training, advocacy, impact litigation, and public education.


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