2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Stephanie Short

Stephanie Short

Name of Host Organization: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
City, State: New Orleans, Louisiana
Issue area: Housing/Homelessness
Sponsors: Norflet Progress Fund

The Project

For low-income New Orleans residents, property is traditionally passed down informally--often for generations. As a result, many people do not have clear title to property they believe they own. These title problems have prevented a sector of the population from accessing hurricane relief funds for their Katrina-damaged homes. My project will provide direct title clearing-related legal services to individuals in need, helping them repair and return to their homes. I will also provide outreach to both the target community and the legal community to raise awareness of the importance of establishing clear title to property.

The Inspiration

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Living in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was one of the most formative experiences of my life because I was forced to witness the power a disaster can have on a community. I saw how people's homes and lives could be quickly torn apart, but I also saw how a community can come together to rebuild. Being a part of the rebuilding and renewal of New Orleans has forged an enduring connection between myself and the New Orleans community. Later as an extern for the Homeless Advocacy Project at SLLS, I saw firsthand how losing your home is a disaster in and of itself, and without a home, it becomes very difficult to rebuild your life. My project will continue the rebuilding and renewal process of the New Orleans community by helping low-income community members, still unable to live in their homes after Katrina, overcome title barriers to returning to their homes.

Biography

Hometown:

New Orleans, Louisiana

Law school:

Surviving law school:

Always remember why you are there. Don't lose sight of your passion, especially if you are interested in public interest law. Remember that everything you do in law school is a stepping stone to achieving your goals and making a real difference in the lives of others.

Recommended books:

Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The Song of the Dodo, David Quammen. The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson – To me Calvin & Hobbes are a reminder of how to be happy: enjoy the small things, have great friends, and a very active imagination.

Favorite website(s):

NPR.org: I recently read that regular NPR listeners are the best informed; I am proud to be among that demographic. High Country News, HCN.org: They have truly wonderful environmental reporting; I hope some day such a reporting outlet exists for the Gulf South. The Story with Dick Gordon, thestory.org: This is a wonderful show that covers the stories of Americans and how the issues of the day affect real people.

Words to live by:

Calvin: Here another year has gone by and everything is still the same! There's still pollution and war and stupidity and greed! Things haven't changed! I say what kind of a future is this?! I thought things were supposed to improve! I thought the future was supposed to be better! Hobbes: The problem with the future is that is keeps turning into the present. -Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes (12-30-1990).

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