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Whitney Rubenstein

2014, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Whitney Rubenstein

Whitney Rubenstein

Name of Host Organization: East Bay Community Law Center
City, State: Berkeley, California
Issue area: Children/Youth, Housing/Homelessness
Sponsors: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation, The Clorox Company

The Project

Whitney is providing a new model of holistic representation to juvenile court-involved Oakland youth and their families who live in subsidized housing in order to prevent eviction and create lasting stability.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
Current federal law allows for local public housing authorities to establish broad reaching policies on crime. In Oakland, this means that families can face eviction from public housing if any member of the household or a guest, including a young person, allegedly engages in criminal activity on or off of public housing premises, whether or not charges or a conviction result. When coupled with the disproportionately high arrest rate of youth of color in Oakland, the sweeping nature of this policy has a devastating impact on families. Not only does it lead to homelessness – dissolving family units and uprooting youth from their communities and schools – it also negatively impacts the trajectory of a young person’s juvenile court case. To combat this impact and keep families housed, this project will provide Oakland families at the intersection of the public housing and juvenile justice systems with desperately needed holistic legal and social work advocacy.
The Right Person For This Project
Whitney is the right person for the project because:
• She has long been committed to advocating for youth and families – prior to attending law school, she was a New York City public school teacher and then went on to obtain a Masters in Social Work
• As a social worker, she worked extensively with both court-involved youth and parents, and ultimately returned to law school to continue this work through an interdisciplinary legal and social work lens