On Wednesday, December 6, members of Berkeley Law’s Policy Advocacy Clinic presented their research relating to the criminalization of homelessness at a community forum with the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. Hosted by the Western Regional Advocacy Project, Coalition on Homelessness San Francisco, St. Anthony Foundation, and St. Mary’s Center, the purpose of the forum was to aid the Special Rapporteur in developing a report on extreme poverty and human rights in the United States by discussing how poverty in the Bay Area affects poor and homeless people’s ability to enjoy civil, political, and human rights protections.
The student team, Rawan Elhalaby (MPP), Shelby Nacino (JD ’18), Zachariah Oquenda (JD ’19), and Daisy Quan (MPP), spoke to the assembly about the findings of PAC reports on the enactment and enforcement of anti-homeless laws, the role of Business Improvement Districts in policy advocacy and policing practices that criminalize homelessness, and criminal fines and fees imposed on homeless people.
“The students’ presentation to the UN Special Rapporteur highlighted ongoing human rights violations in the heart of one of the most progressive cities and states in this country,” said Professor Jeff Selbin, faculty director of the Policy Advocacy Clinic. “At a time when the federal government is poised to redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich — and use the subsequent budget deficits to justify further shredding of the social safety net — I am proud of our students’ rigorous and principled work focused on the dignity and needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”
Observed 3L Nacino, “sharing our research at the forum alongside community members demonstrated to me how we as law students and lawyers can support the critical work that communities are doing to fight for themselves everyday.”