Fellowship Opportunity at the National Housing Law Project
NHLP encourages newly emerging public interest attorneys and graduating law students who are committed to our broad, substantive focus areas to seek our sponsorship for a post-graduate fellowship. Generally, NHLP serves only as the sponsoring organization, and does not provide fellowship funding. Common funding sources include Equal Justice Works, the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, school-sponsored fellowships, and the Soros Justice Fellowships. Potential fellows must first apply to NHLP for organizational sponsorship before applying to fellowship funding sources.
With a staff of nationally recognized experts in federal housing law and an office located in the San Francisco Bay Area, NHLP provides the ideal professional home for the design and implementation of innovative fellowship projects. The communities of the San Francisco Bay Area are rich in diversity, energized by community activism, and grounded in progressive public policy. Fellowships at NHLP have helped to launch the public interest law careers of many dedicated attorneys. Recent NHLP-sponsored fellowship projects have included:
- Implementation and enforcement of federally mandated housing protections for women affected by domestic violence under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA);
- Research and advocacy regarding the intersection between immigrant rights, VAWA housing protections and the impact of nuisance and crime-free ordinances on marginalized groups of people;
- Guaranteeing language access in affordable housing programs; and
- Safeguarding tenants’ rights during the roll-out of a federal program aimed at preserving the nation’s public housing stock.
Qualifications and How to Apply
The ideal fellowship candidate will have:
- A demonstrated commitment to working with and for low-income and underserved populations;
- Extremely high-caliber legal research and writing skills;
- Substantive experience in housing, economic justice, environmental justice, and/or related issues;
- Demonstrated ability to work independently and as a member of a team;
- Excellent communication skills; and
- Admission, or a plan to seek admission, to the California Bar
NHLP is an equal opportunity employer that strives to reflect the diverse community it serves. Candidates who contribute to this diversity are strongly encouraged to apply. Reasonable accommodation is available for qualified individuals with disabilities, upon request.
How to Apply
To apply, please email a cover letter, resume, writing sample, unofficial transcript, and three references to Lisa Sitkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and early applications are encouraged. Applications are due to NHLP by July 1, 2019.
Examples of Possible Fellowship Projects
Depending on the applicant’s experience and interests, possible fellowship projects could include, but are not limited to:
- Expanding Housing Opportunities for People with Criminal Histories: An increasing number of men and women are being released from prison, and numerous studies have shown that securing stable housing is essential to successful reentry. Despite this evidence, people with criminal records are routinely barred from both private and subsidized housing in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Lawmakers are beginning to take notice of the importance of reentry and family reunification resources, but many housing admission decisions are still left to the discretion of housing owners or managers who routinely screen out people with criminal histories. A fellow interested in these issues would join NHLP and national allies to engage in policy advocacy and training to improve housing opportunities for people with criminal histories.
- Protecting Housing Rights of LGBTQ Individuals and Families. Despite the progress made in some areas regarding the rights LGBTQ persons, discrimination in housing against LGBTQ individuals and families persists. During the Obama Administration, HUD issued regulations that require access to its programs regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. However, the future of such regulations is uncertain, especially since they are under attack by the current Administration. A fellow interested in these issues would provide training and technical assistance to advocates nationwide on protecting LGBTQ housing rights in both federally subsidized and private housing in urban, suburban, and rural communities. The fellowship project could also involve the creation of resources about LGBTQ housing protections at the state level, coalition-building with national LGBTQ and other civil rights organizations, and advocacy for new and/or expanded LGBTQ housing protections.
- Expanding Tenants Rights in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program: The LIHTC program is one of the nation’s largest affordable housing programs, supporting over two million units through a public subsidy that covers a substantial portion of each unit’s capital cost. However, because the program is administered by the U.S. Treasury Department and more than 50 different state and local allocating agencies, applicants and tenants have few rights to fair treatment. Building on recent efforts to establish and implement a good cause eviction requirement in the LIHTC program, a fellow would collaborate with advocates around the country to develop a tenant rights policy agenda aimed at establishing critical rights in key jurisdictions through rulemaking and the LIHTC Qualified Allocation Plan process. The fellow’s work would also likely include training for advocates and litigation support in LIHTC cases.
- Protecting Housing for Domestic and Sexual Violence Survivors: The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) expanded housing protections for survivors of domestic and sexual violence by providing remedies for survivors applying for and living in units subsidized by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and Rural Development (RD) programs. VAWA 2013 requires housing providers in these programs to provide emergency transfers for survivors who must leave because of the abuse. Despite these mandates, the government agencies and housing providers responsible for administering LIHTC and RD housing largely have not implemented these critical protections, threatening the housing security of survivors and placing their lives at risk. A fellowship addressing these issues would involve work with government agencies, advocates, and housing providers to develop policies ensuring that VAWA is implemented in LIHTC and rural housing programs, and that housing providers are developing and using emergency transfer plans in urban, suburban, and rural communities.
- Preserving Affordable Housing: Due to federal budget and policy decisions, communities across the country face an increasingly acute housing crisis worsened by significant losses of affordable housing units or subsidies. Current proposals to cut federal support for affordable housing will only exacerbate this crisis, threating affordable units under a wide variety of programs. Although Congress and federal agencies have undertaken some preservation initiatives, such HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), the crisis continues, and implementation of such initiatives requires careful monitoring. A fellow interested in these issues would join NHLP staff and allies nationwide to engage in policy advocacy, training, and selective litigation to preserve affordable housing for very low-income families.
- Healthy Homes Initiative: Federal funding for housing assistance is so low that only one quarter of families who qualify for federal housing assistance receive it. As a result, housing instability and homelessness have become public health crises. Research has shown that as families face eviction and displacement, their physical and mental health deteriorates. Housing instability and related family instability is a major contributor to the $3 trillion spent on healthcare in the United States. A fellow interested in these issues would collaborate with government agencies and public health and housing advocates to examine the links between housing and health, and develop best practices and policy strategies—such as affordable housing preservation, protection from environmental hazards, and access to civil justice—to support safe, stable and healthy homes.