Expert panel weighs in on criminalization of homelessness
On Wednesday, Nov. 3, the 2010-11 Florida Bar Foundation Public Interest Law Fellows, in conjunction with the Center for Governmental Responsibility and APIL, presented a guest panel on “Criminalization of Homelessness: Legal Issues in Providing Services to the Homeless.”
Guest speakers included Kirsten Clanton, Esq., of the Southern Legal Counsel, Professor Joe Jackson of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, and Nery Alonso, Esq. & Tee Ho, Esq., of Three Rivers Legal Services. The speakers discussed the plight of the homeless and legal consequences faced by those who serve them.
Clanton addressed what being “homeless” generally means and the misconceptions surrounding it. Jackson discussed the wide array of legal issues implicated by the criminalization of homelessness itself, including First Amendment free speech and freedom of religion issues implicated when cities attempt to prevent groups from feeding the homeless in public. Finally, attorneys Alonso and Ho discussed the opportunities available at Three Rivers Legal Services for law students who wish to get involved in assisting the homeless, such as the housing clinic and the upcoming rural services clinic.
The event drew attention from law students and the local NPR subsidiary. Students who would like to learn more are encouraged to contact the speakers directly.
The National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week will be held Nov. 14-20. This is a great time to learn more and get involved with this cause.