The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) was founded in 1989 by Maria Foscarinis as a non-profit corporation based in Washington, D.C. It is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal revenue Code, and contributions to it are tax deductible. The organization is governed by a 16 member volunteer Board of Directors, and works with other national and local organizations across the country.
The mission of NLCHP is to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to end homelessness. Through a combination of impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education, NLCHP works for systematic reform that addresses the causes of homelessness at the local, state, and national level. NLCHP views homelessness as an extreme form of poverty, caused primarily by a shortage of affordable housing, insufficient income, and inadequate social services. NLCHP is the only national legal advocacy organization dedicated solely to preventing and ending homelessness.
NLCHP’s programs focus on reforming systems that contribute to and cause homelessness, while also working to make a concrete difference in the lives of millions.
The organization’s programs include:
- Assuring that homeless children are able to go to school
- Preventing domestic violence survivors from becoming homeless
- Assisting impoverished families when they are homeless due to a natural disaster
- Holding the U.S. government accountable until the human right to housing is a reality for all
- Protecting homeless individuals from discrimination
- Creating homes and communities for homeless people from unused government property
Major accomplishments by NLCHP include:
- Helping to spur passage of the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, which increased federal resources to prevent homelessness and to house those already homeless, and required that the federal government develop a plan to end homelessness.
- Helping to spur passage of 2009’s Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, which provided tenants of foreclosure properties with unprecedented federal protections, including the right to 90-days notice prior to eviction, or in many cases, the right to stay in their home until the end of their lease.
- Advocating for laws in D.C. and Maryland that add homeless people as a protected class to their hate crime statutes.
- Helping to plan a nationwide fact-finding mission for the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Raquel Rolnik, who met with poor and homeless persons and government officials in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. and other cities to assess the status of American homelessness. She concluded her trip by sharing her preliminary findings at NLCHP’s National Forum on Housing as a Human Right.
- Along with pro bono partner Goodwin Procter, successfully resolving a class action lawsuit on behalf of 2,000 children against the Long Island, New York school system, Suffolk County, and New York state, ensuring access to school and school services for those children.
- Advocating successfully for a federal law that makes surplus federal property available to homeless assistance organizations at no cost, and creating a tool kit and provides technical assistance to help local advocates apply for and obtain federal property. Federal agencies estimate that at least $100 million in surplus federal property has been made available to homeless assistance organizations to date.
- Successfully advocating against anti-camping laws in Puyallup, WA, where homeless persons were harassed and arrested for sleeping in public. As a result of NLCHP’s efforts, the Puyallup City Council declared a Homeless Awareness Day and is considering legislation to establish tent cities on Church property.
Many of NLCHP's most significant and high profile legal victories were made possible through extensive pro bono service from the private bar. In 2004, NLCHP decided to strengthen its ties with pro bono partners and recognize their vital contributions to its work. Thus, the Lawyers’ Executive Advisory Partners, known as LEAP, was formed. LEAP is a national philanthropic effort of the legal community to help homeless and poverty-stricken Americans achieve self-sufficiency. LEAP members work to prevent and end homelessness by providing NLCHP with financial support as well as pro bono legal services. The members form a network of key influential leaders that realize significant positive social change.
History/Founder- Maria Foscarinis
In 1989 by Maria Foscarinis created theNLCHP. She is a lawyer who has been working to end homelessness on the national level. * Before founding this organization, Maria Foscarinis was a former litigation associate at Sullivan and Cromwell. Through her pro bono work at Sullivan and Cromwell, she became an advocate for the homeless *. She has worked on Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. This act was the first major federal legislation that addresses homelessness and poverty on a national level. *
Current Staff and Project areas
Founder & Executive Director: Maria Foscarinis
Legal Director: Karen Cunningham
Policy Director: Jeremy Rosen
Pro Bono Coordinator: Cecilia Dos Santos
Domestic Violence Attorney: Rachel Natelson
Civil Rights Program Director: Heather Maria Johnson
Human Rights Program Director/Children & Youth Attorney: Eric Tars
Volunteer: Marion Manheimer
Development & Communications
Interim Director of Development & Communications: Andy Beres
Development Assistant: Christine Hwang
Due to the economic crisis homelessness has significantly increased. The NLCHP homelessness program dedicates its time to increase the amount recourses for homeless people. They advocate for an increase of funding for housing.
This organization works to help victims/survivors of domestic violence access housing. The NLCHP to create and implement policy changes that effect domestic violence and housing. They also work with victims of domestic violence who are at risk of losing their homes due to what has happened to them.
Income The NLCP focuses on improving benefits in income for homeless persons. This includes Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and the food assistance programs. They advocate for an increase in funding for these programs.
Children and youth
There are more than 1.3 million children are homeless. They work to strengthen legislation that will guarantee all children especially children who are homeless an education. They believe that education is one way to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
About half of Americans believe that adequate housing is a human right. This advocates for an increase in housing resources at all levels of government
The NLCHP has immediate, intermediate, and long-term plans to help the people affected by both hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They assist in two ways. They assist those who lost their housing to the hurricanes and those who were homeless before the hurricanes. They work with the national response that meets the needs of the people who are affected.
Membership is used through the Lawyers' Executive Advisory Partners (LEAP) Program. *. Members of LEAP members provide financial support and pro bono legal services to help the NLCHP prevent. * Pro-bono is when someone donates professional and legal work for the public good *. There are membership levels. According to NLCHP’s website, the membership levels are: • “Member - $5,000 - $9,999
• Supporter - $10,000 - $14,999
• Sustainer - $15,000- $24,999
• Leader - $25,000 - $49,000
• Champion - $50,000 and up ”.
Benefits of being a member include community engagement, pro bono benefits, publicity, networking with other lawyers, and tax deductions *. Another benefit of this organization is that donors can participate as amicus curiae in both the Supreme court and other courts that affect the homeless *.
Long-term solutions of homelessness
There long-term solutions for homelessness include ensuring affordable housing, ensuring adequate income, ensuring social services, and to prohibit discrimination. They believe by providing real solutions they will be able to help integrate the homeless back into society. They will do this by lobbying and creating policies. One example of this is that they are creating policies that will help the homeless jobs that will then help them find homes which will help stabilize the economy.
Every year the NLCHP holds the McKinney-Vento Awards. These awards recognizes individuals and organizations that have helped provide solutions to end homelessness and poverty. 2011 marked the 13th annual Mckinney-Vento Awards.* The McKinney-Vento awards is named after Congressman Stewart B. McKinney and Congressman Bruce F. Vento. *.
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- GuideStar - JustGive Search - National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
- Charity Navigator Rating - National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
- National Alliance to End Homelessness' HEARTH Act Summary http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/general/detail/2098
- Prince George's Sentinel: Foreclosures also affect tenants http://www.thesentinel.com/pgs/column-landlord-foreclosers-ganzler
- USA Today: MD first to make homeless attacks a hate crime http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-05-07-homeless-attacks-hate-crimes_N.htm
- UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing's opening remarks at National Housing Forum http://hub.witness.org/en/upload/un-special-rapporteur-right-adequate-housing-opening-remarks-2009-national-forum-human-right-
- Agreement Near on Homeless Schooling - New York Times
- President Signs Bill to Provide More Housing Resources http://www.nlchp.org/view_release.cfm?PRID=1
- An Overview of LEAP http://www.nlchp.org/program.cfm?prog=8