Homeless Youth Law Clinic wrote -
Our Purpose: Serving youth in solving their legal issues and preventing Portland youth from experiencing homelessness and its collateral consequences.
Our Story: John recently had taken the bar exam and worked in public interest appellate litigation and began volunteering at a Portland youth homeless drop in center, New Avenues for Youth. At the drop in center, John contemplated advising youth on legal issues or questions they might have about the legal system. Many of the youth he met grew up in foster care or destructive broken homes, were adopted, or kicked out of their homes because of their sexuality, or another reason that did not fit well within their family.
He swiftly realized he was the only lawyer who had actually engaged with them in their lifetime. The issues they faced were not limited to advice, but legal problems that needed addressing, barriers to their homelessness, to education and work, so that they might make the leap from life on the streets, or housing in a shelter, to one of independence, in a home, a job, or school. His engagement with youth has led us to establish the Homeless Youth Law Clinic (HYLC), a 501(c)3 nonprofit that will focus on serving youth. This work has only scratched the surface of the high need that currently exists in Portland, the 10th highest homeless youth population by city in the US.
Now the good stuff… We have been volunteering at the New Avenues for Youth drop in center since March 1, 2014. In that time we have achieved the following:
Helped 50 youth deal with 67 legal problems. That number will continue to rise as we expand our capacity.
- Represented youth in expungement hearings, access to their biological children, debt relief, housing, police harassment, helped youth gain permanent legal status in the U.S., assisted a youth in setting up her own apparel company, and helped several youth try to find their biological parents after being adopted or sent to foster care. This list is a snapshot of our case work with youth.
- Created a Know Your Rights clinic with Portland Parent Union, whose goal is to end the school to prison pipeline, and make schools for children and teens a place of learning, rather than a pipeline to the criminal justice system. Our next step is to represent youth in suspension, expulsion hearings and special education hearings.
How you can help… become a Barrier Breaker! Just a little goes a long way to ensure HYLC reaches 100 youth. Donating any amount furthers our ability to remove barriers to independence. Your gift translates to service hours helping clients like Jamie – who is launching her own business – or other youth who want to access higher education, housing, family and job training.
We thank you for reading our story and considering a gift to our project. Your support means another youth will have an advocate at their side.