Homeless Advocacy Clinic Goals and Structure

In 2019, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors formally declared an emergency homeless shelter crisis. The 2019 Homeless Point in Time for Sacramento County found that 5,570 persons experience homelessness on a given night, and that number has increased with COVID-19. In 2020, more than 95 homeless men and women died in Sacramento County, and the number of homeless deaths is surging. The data from a variety of governmental and nonprofit organizations is overwhelming that the vulnerable reentry and homeless population suffer disproportionately from serious mental illness and substance use disorders.

The HAC established a medical legal partnership with WellSpace Health, a community health center in Sacramento. Medical-legal partnerships with direct legal representation are a proven model to address unmet social determinants of health that impact on homelessness and recidivism. Other current community partners include the Office of the Federal Defender, the Sacramento County Public Defender, and the Exodus Project, an interfaith nonprofit providing mentorship and other services to returning citizens from the Sacramento County jails.

Students in the Homeless Advocacy Clinic provide legal services to help eliminate barriers to housing and employment for criminal justice-involved individuals who are experiencing homelessness. Priority legal services include access to public benefits; expungement of criminal records; reduction of traffic fines and fees; child support modification; and credit counseling.

Structure of the Homeless Advocacy Clinic and Limit on Enrollment

  • This is a one-semester clinic, offered in both fall and spring, for three graded units, which includes a 90 minute, weekly clinic instructional meeting. In addition, law students will engage in client representation and counseling for a total of 150 hours.
  • Students are encouraged to enroll for two semesters to fulfill their experiential learning requirement, to gain additional skills, and to work on cases with more complexity.
  • The Clinic is located in the McGeorge Community Legal Services building at 2925 34th St., Sacramento, CA 95817, on the campus of McGeorge School of Law.
  • Enrollment in the Homeless Advocacy Clinic is limited to eight students.

Prerequisites for Enrollment

A written application is required. Previous or concurrent enrollment in Poverty Law (when offered), Civil Procedure and Evidence. Previous or concurrent enrollment in Elder Law & Social Policy (when offered) is recommended.

Professor

Ron Hochbaum, Assistant Professor of Lawyering Skills, is a national expert on homelessness and poverty law. Before joining the faculty at McGeorge, Professor Hochbaum was an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law and a Clinical Teaching Fellow at Loyola University Chicago and Cornell University. In practice, Professor Hochbaum worked first as a Staff Attorney and then a Supervising Attorney at the Homeless Action Center in Berkeley and Oakland, California where he represented homeless clients in claims for public benefits. Professor Hochbaum and his students provide holistic, barrier-free, and client-centered representation while employing housing first and harm reduction principles to secure effective and empowering outcomes for their clients.

Questions?

Contact Melissa Brown
Email