December 04, 2017

Volunteer attorneys come together to learn about helping homeless youth in Baltimore

More than 50 lawyers attended the ABA Homeless Youth Legal Network Pro Bono launch at the offices of Baker Donelson in Baltimore on Nov. 16 to learn about becoming pro bono volunteers. 

ABA President Hilarie Bass greeted the attendees by video, and thanked Baker Donelson for their longstanding support of the Homeless Persons Representation Project in Baltimore. She called the HPRP’s Homeless Youth Initiative, one of the ABA’s 12 model programs, a “shining example of success,” and said it had so far helped 283 youth in Baltimore find homes, jobs and more.

Craig Holden of Baker Donelson welcomed the group, and Ingrid Lofgren of HPRP’s Homeless Youth Initiative and Linda Britton, director of the ABA Commission on Youth at Risk, gave remarks.

On Nov. 17, HPRP hosted its first pro bono clinic at the YES Drop-In Center in Baltimore.  Billed as ID Day, the event was open to youth aged 24 and younger and was held in partnership with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, which was there to help the young adults secure IDs.  Attorneys onsite provided legal services. 

According to Lofgren, HPRP’s Homeless Youth Initiative is looking for volunteer attorneys who already have experience in key areas of law that frequently come up when serving homeless youth, including:

  • Family law (i.e., domestic violence, child custody issues, etc.);
  • Consumer law (i.e., debt collection);
  • Child welfare (i.e., older teens accessing foster care resources);
  • Landlord/tenant (i.e., apartment conditions, security deposit issues);
  • Criminal expungement;
  • ID access; and
  • Vital records.

The Homeless Youth Initiative will provide training in cultural competencies for the lawyers, including bringing them up to speed on the homeless youth population’s issues surrounding:

  • Trauma,
  • LGBT issues,
  • Impact of racism, and
  • Housing instability and homelessness.

Because of their relationships with other youth-serving organizations in Baltimore, the HYI will also provide ongoing support for the lawyer-client relationships by taking advantage of these resources. In addition, they will monitor cases but not supervise the legal services, track issues coming in and recruit lawyers and scale up as needed and do outreach to youth clients at community events.