WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2017 — Lawyers and law firms across the country are participating in volunteer events this week to help youth experiencing homelessness with their legal needs, as part of the National Celebration of Pro Bono, which runs Oct. 22-28.
Their efforts are in response to ABA President Hilarie Bass’ Legal Needs of Homeless Youth Initiative, established in August 2017. The initiative is training volunteer lawyers to provide legal assistance to youth living in shelters and match lawyers throughout the country with shelters to provide free legal assistance.
Many of the more than 500,000 homeless youth in the United States need access to lawyers who can remove the legal barriers that prevent them from getting the education, employment, housing, health care, identification and other services that could transform their lives. But of the more than 350 shelters in the U.S. that serve homeless youth, few have access to legal services.
“As lawyers, we recognize the critical role our profession can play to remove barriers and provide access to justice,” Bass said. “Through this initiative, the American Bar Association is collaborating directly with service providers to address the legal and justice-system based issues burdening this vulnerable population—and the results can transform their lives.”
Among the events during the National Celebration of Pro Bono are:
- In New York City on Oct. 25, the youth drop-in center The Door will host a Homeless Youth Legal Clinic
- In Philadelphia, the Homeless Advocacy Project will sponsor free legal clinics for people experiencing homelessness on Oct 25, 27 and 30.
- In Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 24, Capital University Law School will host a lecture on “Differing Perspectives: Views on Youth Homelessness from the Bench, the Experts and the Street”
- In San Francisco on Oct 27, there will be a Homeless Youth Drop-in Clinic at Bay Area Legal Aid
- The Washington (D.C.) Legal Clinic for the Homeless will see clients on Oct. 25 and 27
- In Oklahoma City on Oct. 27, the Oklahoma County Homeless Task Force will meet to plan legislative initiatives to reduce youth homelessness. The task force is also working to coordinate with shelters and schools to determine how to better provide services to at-risk and homeless youth, to de-mystify the justice system, to provide legal assistance and to provide hope through mentoring and community connections.
- In Boston on Oct. 27, the Lawyers Clearinghouse will sponsor a Legal Clinic for the Homeless at the Woods-Mullen Shelter
- In Washington, D.C., on Oct. 27, an interdisciplinary group of lawyers, advocates and providers will discuss the most critical legal needs and develop new strategies for expanded services at Covenant House Washington.