Letters to the Editor

Lawyers are helping homeless youths

On any given night, 7,000 young people in Florida are homeless. For many, the barriers standing between them and a stable, productive adulthood include legal issues such as a poor credit report, a tangled criminal record or having no basic identification.

The American Bar Association believes that homelessness among children constitutes a civil-rights issue.

We have created the ABA Homeless Youth Legal Network, which helps attorneys and other advocates address gaps in legal services for homeless youth.

Florida’s lawyers are a big part of this legal effort. On April 13, in Orlando, the ABA will join with The Walt Disney Company, the Baker McKenzie law firm and nonprofit child-advocacy organization Florida’s Children First to launch the Florida Homeless Youth Handbook.

This resource provides practical legal information on issues like healthcare, housing, credit, identification, foster care, criminal justice and public benefits.

Baker McKenzie also has produced such handbooks for New York, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota and Washington.

Lawyers from Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach have partnered with homeless youth shelters and drop-in centers to provide direct legal representation, offering legal clinics, and giving “Know Your Rights” presentations.

In Orlando, Greenberg Traurig attorneys are working with youth at Covenant House Florida; Holland & Knight lawyers are aiding those at Zebra Coalition; and Akerman attorneys are helping the young at The Faine House.

The ABA and Florida lawyers are working together to deliver this assistance so homeless youth have the chance to lead healthy, full lives.

Hilarie Bass,

president, American

Bar Association,

Greenberg Traurig, Miami

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