2022 Right to Housing Forum Videos & Materials

Hello and thank you for your interest in viewing the videos and materials from our Right to Housing Forum held on November 16-17 in Washington D.C.! This page includes recordings of most of our sessions along with any materials offered, only excluding those with sensitive strategy planning that we aren’t ready to make public.

We hope that you leave with a deeper understanding of the issues and policies that contribute to homelessness and with a passion to fight for a human right to housing for all!

Day 1 Welcome & Plenary Sessions


Opening Lunch & Film Discussion

Francine Friedman of Akin Gump 

Antonia Fasanelli with the National Homelessness Law Center

Don Sawyer & Tim Hashko with A Bigger Vision Films


Khadijah Williams of Rocketship Schools and member of the National Homelessness Law Center Board

Eric Tars with the National Homelessness Law Center 

Plenary Session 1

Making Housing a Human Right

Housing is a human right! It’s a great rallying call, but it’s also a statement with legal impact. This plenary will explain some of the details of what making a human right would actually mean for people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity in the U.S., why it’s so important, and share some of the exciting work going on across the country to put that right into policy. 

Eric Tars with the National Homelessness Law Center

Sen. Saud Anwar of the Connecticut Senate

Rep. Nicole Macri from the Washington State House of Representatives

Kath Rogers of the ACLU of Southern California

Judith Samuels with The Samuels Group 

Plenary Session 2

Countering the Criminalization of Homelessness

Moderated discussion of the Cicero Institute model policy viewed through the lens of history, with discussion about the roots of anti-homeless laws (e.g. Ugly laws, Black codes/vagrancy) and how the Cicero Institute model policy is built on that history. 

Tristia Bauman with the National Homelessness Law Center

Paul Boden of the Western Regional Advocacy Project

Earl J. Edwards from Boston College Lynch School

David Peery from Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity

Graham Pruss with UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations 

Day 2 Breakout Sessions

Breakout Session 1

Human Right to Housing 201: Moving from Slogans to Statutes

This workshop will provide advocates who want to push for local or state level legislation to implement housing as a human right an opportunity to discuss challenges and possible solutions. National and local advocates will share how they’ve been working to implement the human right to housing and offer extensive Q&A time with participants to workshop ideas.

Sarah Fox with the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness

Miranda Guedes from University of Miami Law School Human Rights Clinic

Katherine Murray University of Miami Law School Human Rights Clinic

Michael Santos from RESULTS

Eric Tars with the National Homelessness Law Center

Sarah Walters from University of Miami Law School Human Rights Clinic

The First Amendment: Panhandling and Protests

The First Amendment provides some of the strongest legal argumentation for litigation challenging the criminalization of homelessness, particularly when criminalization comes in the form of legislative bans on sharing food or soliciting charitable donations. NHLC’s Litigation Manual Supplement found that since the seminal Reed v. Gilbert Supreme Court case in 2015, all cases challenging panhandling bans, for instance, have led to successful outcomes, with “successful outcomes” defined as court findings of unconstitutionality, repeals of the challenged law, overturning of convictions based on the challenged law, or settlement agreements.

The First Amendment is a powerful tool for our movement, but it is also rapidly changing and vastly complex. This session will discuss key precedent in First Amendment jurisprudence as it relates to the criminalization of homelessness, and strategies for litigators and attorneys as they craft legal arguments.

Tristia Bauman with the National Homelessness Law Center

Joseph Mead from Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection

Kirsten Anderson and Ellen Degnan both with the Southern Poverty Law Center 

Exclusionary Zoning Litigation and the Criminalization of Homelessness

Our movement is quickly learning that the criminalization of homelessness comes in many forms. In addition to the most common forms of criminalization we see – legislative bans on outdoor sleeping, sitting, lying down, resting, asking for help, and living in vehicles – zoning law has become a more insidious, but incredibly harmful, way in which homelessness is being punished around the country. In cities and states around the country, municipal zoning laws are being used to attempt to legislate shelters and encampment sites out of existence.
This session will discuss trends in exclusionary zoning and how zoning laws have prevented homeless shelters, encampments, and services from opening in communities that need them, or have pushed out and shut down existing structures and services. Speakers will discuss litigation strategy for these types of cases, and share lessons learned from prior lawsuits.

Lily Milwit with the National Homelessness Law Center

Diana Simpson from the Institute for Justice

State Index on Youth Homelessness 101: Better Data, Better Advocacy

The National Homelessness Law Center and True Colors United released the 2022 State Index on Youth Homelessness. This update measures and analyzes the systems, environment, and laws of all 50 states and D.C. as they relate to preventing and ending youth homelessness. The Index paints a broad picture of where states currently stand in these categories and how they can collectively and individually improve their efforts to end and prevent youth homelessness. This session will explain the methodology behind the State Index and do a deep dive into the data to help policymakers and advocates think about what changes they can make to existing policies, systems, and services towards ending and preventing youth homelessness at the state level.

Aleya Jones of True Colors United

Jeremy Penn with the National Homelessness Law Center

Breakout Session 2

Stopping Cicero: Responding to the Policy Push Against Permanent Housing and for Camps, Criminalization and Institutionalization

In the past legislative session, template legislation drafted by the Cicero Institute criminalizing camping statewide, taking resources from permanent housing and directing it toward high-barrier encampments and parking facilities, and making it easier to involuntarily commit people has been introduced in half a dozen states, passing in several. This session will help advocates across state lines discuss challenges, strategies, and needs.

Eric Tars with the National Homelessness Law Center

Michelle Jackson and Matt Kelsey both with Alston & Bird

Marisol Bello from the Housing Narrative Lab 

To access materials for this session, please email request to etars@homelesslaw.org

To access video for this session, please email request to etars@homelesslaw.org

Vehicle Residency and Structural Violence

This session reviews legal and economic constraints on people who inhabit vehicles in public parking. Point-in-time counts of unsheltered people across the Western United States show a growing population who inhabit vehicles, often parked for extended periods in public areas. Some of the largest Western US communities report that one-third to one-half of individuals and families who sleep in public spaces reside in a vehicle such as a car, van, commercial-sized truck, recreational vehicle (RV), detached trailer, or bus. People who live in vehicles as their primary accommodation, vehicle residents, are often on limited- or fixed-incomes and choose this form of shelter as an affordable long-term option to maintain a connection to familiar communities, employment, healthcare and social services. Though they may not self-identify as homeless, vehicle residents in urban spaces often live for over one year in public parking and report disabling conditions, meeting the federal definition of chronically homeless. With no access to private places to locate their home, vehicle residents experience persistent criminalization and banishment from public areas through ticketing, property seizure, and restrictive signs. Anti-vehicle residency legal policies, ordinances, and enforcement are forms of structural violence that shape and police public spaces. Such criminalization and banishment tends to operate with impunity because its harmful outcomes are presupposed as justified to maintain a status quo. This session examines why and how people use vehicle residency as an adaptive strategy to local conditions. It demonstrates how the criminalization and banishment of vehicle residency operate as forms of structural violence that exclude displaced people from their communities.

Graham Pruss with UCSF’s Center for Vulnerable Populations 

Decriminalization Advocacy Post-Martin v. Boise

Join us for a fast-paced and interactive session where we will discuss what Martin v. Boise settled and what it did not, new precedent relying on Martin v. Boise inside and outside of the Ninth Circuit, and legal and organizing strategy tips to stop the criminalization of survival. 

Kirsten Anderson from the Southern Poverty Law Center

Tristia Bauman with the National Homelessness Law Center

Ed Johnson from Oregon Law Center

Jeff Preptit with the ACLU of Tennessee

India Pungarcher from Open Table Nashville

Maig Tinnin with the Fair Housing Council of Oregon 

No materials for this session.

Helping the Helpers: Hot Topics in Representing Community Organizations Working to End Homelessness

The National Homelessness Law Center is launching a nationwide effort to fill the gaps in pro bono representation for nonprofit and community organizations working to end homelessness called In-HOUSING Counsel. Our partners on the ground have expressed difficulty in finding legal assistance for organizations operating outside of major metropolitan areas regarding a wide variety of issues, including restrictive zoning/land use issues, navigating local ordinances, contracting & invoicing with municipal & county agencies, tax issues, developing employment and other policies, and governance issues. In this session, learn from a panel of experts who are running programs that represent nonprofit organizations in their communities about the legal issues they see over and over again, the benefits and challenges of representing an organizational client, and best practices in navigating conflicts and other ethical issues.

Rachel Blake from Regional Housing Legal Services

Christine Kulumani and Darryl Maxwell both with the DC Bar Pro Bono Center

Joseph Jampel with Regional Housing Legal Services

Katie Meyer Scott with the National Homelessness Law Center

Due to technical difficulties, this session did not record. We will host a webinar covering the same materials in the coming months and will post that video when available.

Lunch & Discussion

Lunch Plenary: Centering Impacted Voices: How can the Media Shift Public Perceptions Around Homelessness?

As media narratives demonizing and exploiting people experiencing homelessness proliferate, our panel will discuss messaging and narrative building around homelessness, with a key focus on the importance of elevating the voices of those with lived experience in media. Join us in learning how to effectively engage and leverage the stories of people impacted by homelessness, as a tool to shift public perceptions around its root causes and strengthen the arguments for effective solutions.   

Mark Horvath of Invisible People

Pam Fessler with the National Homelessness Law Center’s Board and former NPR correspondent

Erika Lopez with the National Homelessness Law Center

Breakout Session 3

Human Right to Housing 202

This session will continue the morning session, providing an opportunity for deeper discussion of the tools and opportunities of human rights advocacy from the international to local level, and helping advocates think about how to reframe the policy debate away from criminalization and toward a vision of housing as a human right. The afternoon session will include specific training on lobbying and legislative advocacy.

Eric Tars with the National Homelessness Law Center

Francine Friedman and Hans Rickhoff both with Akin & Gump 

Sanctioned Encampments

Sanctioned encampments have been popping up all over the country as an “emergency response” to homelessness during, and after, the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that COVID-specific funding is running dry, many local governments have proposed making these encampments a formal tier of the shelter system. In this session, Jade Arellano, Organizing Director at the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) will discuss the implications of relying on these encampments as a “service.” Particularly, the session will interrogate how sanctioned encampments have been and will continue to be used to sweep and warehouse unhoused people living on the streets, and how they are part of a larger trend whereby local governments fabricate and formalize “service resistance” in order to continue the criminalization of homelessness under Martin v. Boise.

Jade Arellano from the Western Regional Advocacy Project 

To be posted soon.

Climate Change and Homelessness

As the climate changes rapidly, people experiencing housing insecurity, homelessness, and particularly unsheltered homelessness are often the most vulnerable to natural disasters and related displacement or forced migration. While there is a vast network of federal disaster relief funds and programs, these programs are not created or administered with unhoused communities in mind.  

Additionally, as communities get creative about implementing climate change-fighting infrastructure, effects like gentrification and displacement are seldom contemplated. This session will explore ways in which the federal disaster relief system can be reformed to account for and accommodate people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity, as well as ways that city planners and climate change activists can adapt their communities’ infrastructure to withstand climate change in ways that do not force out unhoused and low-income residents.  

Tristia Bauman with the National Homelessness Law Center

Evlonodo Cooper from Media Matters

Denise Ghartey with Community Justice Project

Sean Kidd with the University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry

Noah Patton from the National Low Income Housing Coalition 

State Index on Youth Homelessness 201: Creating a Legal Climate that Empowers Youth

It can be difficult for people who have never experienced housing instability to understand the choices that youth and young adults experiencing homelessness make each day to survive. Yet, often these choices are the best option given the legal climate in their state. Join us for an interactive presentation that will allow you to explore the reasons for the impossible choices that youth face and examine ways to improve the climate for youth in your state.

Katie Meyer-Scott with the National Homelessness Law Center

Closing Plenary

Report Back & Next Steps

Closing reflections on the Human Right to Housing Forum with several of our panel speakers.

Graham Pruss with UCSF’s Center for Vulnerable Populations 

Katie Meyer-Scott with the National Homelessness Law Center

Eric Tars with the National Homelessness Law Center

Tristia Bauman with the National Homelessness Law Center

Lily Milwit with the National Homelessness Law Center

Alex Matak with the National Homelessness Law Center

There are no materials for this session.

Thank you for viewing the videos and materials from our Right to Housing Forum 2022!

Remote attorneys seeking CLE credit must download and fill out the code boxes on the Nontraditional Format Form and Evaluation Form and return them to etars@homelesslaw.org within 1 week of the conference.

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