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Anti-Poverty Initiative

Collaborate to Advocate: Lawyers and Communities Working to End Poverty


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Nearly 50 million Americans now live below the federal poverty line. Recent societal, economic and political events (economic meltdown, mortgage foreclosure epidemic, Trayvon Martin, Hurricane Katrina, Ferguson, Missouri, Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” 9/11, the “school to prison pipeline,” unaccompanied minors coming across the border, etc.) have given rise to unprecedented public awareness of historic levels of income inequality, numbers of children living in poverty and disparate treatment and impacts of the law and justice systems on communities of color and populations that face other barriers and obstacles to justice, such as disability, limited English proficiency, immigrant status and other factors. Through this initiative, the Commission is identifying, promoting and implementing best practices for eliminating legal and justice system-related policies, practices and procedures, including those tainted by structural racialization and other forms of bias, that perpetuate or worsen the harmful effects of poverty and discrimination on individuals, families and households, including barriers to individual and community well-being, personal and physical safety, food security, health care, education, employment at a living wage, safe, stable and affordable housing, meaningful political participation and access to justice.

Past Events


White House Eviction Reform Summit 


Tribal Lending Law   


Consumer Debtor Protections & Rights for Low-Income Americans During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Coronavirus: Protecting Safety-Net Public Benefits During the Pandemic


Montgomery County, Maryland, Community Forum: Alternatives to the Criminalization of Homelessness (April 26, 2019, Rockville, Maryland)


Combatting the Criminalization of Homelessness: The Role of Young Lawyers


Class-Crits Annual Symposium, New Orleans, Louisiana (November)

Collaborate to Advocate:  Washington, DC (April): Agenda & Briefing BookReport from Summit


Collaborate to AdvocateOklahoma City, OKCharleston, SC  (October)

Anti-Poverty Roundtable (San Francisco, August) 

Resources: Campaign Slide Deck; Rise Together Presentation; Program Summary/Anti-Poverty Quilt Patch 

Collaborate to AdvocateBirmingham, ALSelma, ALMontgomery, AL (April)

 ARTICLE: Anti-poverty movement draws Alabama activists

Collaborate to AdvocateSan Diego, CA (February); Program Summary/Anti-Poverty Quilt Patch


Collaborate to AdvocateMiami, FL (October) ARTICLE: Asociación de Abogados de EEUU aborda en Miami la pobreza en Florida; Program Summary/Anti-Poverty Quilt Patch


The War on Poverty: Is Every Lawyer a Soldier, or Are We Tilting at Windmills?(July, Washington, D.C.) 


If you have an article, program and/or resource you think we should add to our growing collection, please email us at [email protected].

Rental Assistance Resources, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Report: Designing for Housing Stability: Best Practices for Court-Based and Court-Adjacent Eviction Prevention and/or Diversion Programs , American Bar Association and Harvard University

Eviction Diversion Diagnostic Tool, National Center for State Courts

The Criminalization of Poverty (February, 2019)


Toolkit for Communities Seeking to Develop and Operationalize Local Anti-Poverty Agendas: A Blueprint for Action

Anti-Poverty Toolkit

Tips on Legislative Advocacy

Blueprints for Action:

1. Substandard and unaffordable housing and homelessness

2. Disproportionate involvement in criminal and civil justice systems

3. Food inadequacy

4. Inadequate healthcare and poor health outcomes

5. Inadequate education outcomes

6. Lack of opportunity for full employment at a living wage

7. Living through an unending and continuous cycle of crises

8. Lack of personal and physical safety

9. Stigma and lack of personal dignity

10. Isolation from community and political infrastructure

Anti-Poverty Quilt

Building an (Online) Anti-Poverty Movement…One Stitch at a Time: An Anti-Poverty Quilt 

When all members of society come together to address an issue in their community, the process is similar to assembling a quilt—with many voices, differing perspectives, unique expertise, but one common goal.

View the quilt HERE and stay tuned and check back in as we update our Anti-Poverty Quilt.


The Commission on Homelessness and Poverty has sponsored and cosponsored several ABA policies related to poverty. Recent ABA Policy:

See the full list of policies supported by the Commission and adopted by the ABA House of Delegates.

For a more detailed list of ABA policies related to the initiative, see the list of ABA Policies Organized by the Manifestations of Poverty