Happy 2013! As we start the new year at the Law Center, we reflect first on last year. We saw gains in our work on the human right to housing, including the rights of tenants in foreclosure; on fighting the criminalization of homelessness and poverty; securing the voting rights of homeless and poor people; and upholding the right of homeless children to go to school. We mobilized the pro bono resources of dozens of law firms, and worked with allies across the country, including on the first-ever Homeless Bill of Rights. You can read a fuller overview of our work in 2012 here.
But even as we review these successes, we know that our homeless brothers and sisters are suffering, and that much more remains to be done.
Last year also marked the first time that the number of homeless school children topped one million. Key priorities for 2013 are:
- Mobilizing more pro bono lawyers to protect and enforce the education rights of homeless children through outreach and litigation;
- Advocating at the state and local levels for more laws to protect homeless people from criminal punishment and advance their human right to housing, supporting and building on the Homeless Bills of Rights now underway in several states;
- Enforcing and strengthening federal law to protect tenants from being evicted simply because of foreclosure on their landlord (currently 40% of all foreclosure related evictions are of tenants);
- Challenging laws and policies that punish innocent acts such as sleeping in public when there is no other alternative, including working with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the U.S. Department of Justice.
I hope we can count on your support in the coming year as we fight these crucial battles. The New Year is filled with possibility, and we are as committed as ever to our ultimate goal: ending homelessness in America.
- Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director