Three months ago I began my incredible journey as the human rights fellow at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP). As a partner organization of Northeastern School of Law’s (NUSL) Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, NLCHP offers current law students an invaluable learning opportunity to gain hands-on experience of legal advocacy in the United States, specifically within the context of international human rights.
At the conclusion of my first year at NUSL, I was eager to take advantage of an NLCHP fellowship in Washington, D.C. – and to take a hiatus from classroom lectures! What I did not know at that time was how much I would appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow as a legal intern and professional. I was also unaware of how invested I would be in NLCHP’s mission: using the law to prevent and end homelessness.
Over the course of my fellowship I was involved with several projects under the leadership of my supervisor, Eric Tars. One focus of my work this summer involved the review of the United States’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). As the human rights arm of NLCHP, Eric and the Law and Policy team have been participating in the review by advocating for the rights of individuals experiencing homeless, with a particular focus on criminalization of homelessness. During the review process, advocates like NLCHP can submit shadow reports to supplement the United States’ ICCPR compliance report to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee. I was able to participate in drafting NLCHP’s shadow report to influence the Committee’s concluding observations of U.S. compliance with its treaty obligations, but equally importantly, also see how NLCHP used the opportunity of the international review to create new opportunities for domestic advocacy.
This summer I was also able to research and compile a new report on security of tenure in the United States. When complete, this report will be submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing to support her security of tenure study. Again, the focus is not on developing international legal standards in the abstract, but to make them specifically applicable to issues housing and homelessness advocates in the U.S. are confronting. Through drafting the security of tenure and shadow reports as well as my participation in several other NLCHP projects, I have been able refine my legal research and writing skills as well as significantly expand my knowledge of the homelessness crisis and its underlying causes in the United States.
My involvement in many significant and diverse reports and projects, Eric’s skilled leadership, and the general camaraderie among NLCHP’s staff and interns contribute heavily to my very positive view of my fellowship this summer. I hope to stay involved with NLCHP as I continue my law school studies and will remain an active supporter of the movement to prevent and end homelessness.
-Nicole McAllister, Human Rights Legal Intern
Original version of this post can be found on the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty’s website blog.