2015 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Amy Willis

Amy Willis

Name of Host Organization: Georgia Law Center for the Homeless
City, State: Atlanta, Georgia
Issue area: Housing/Homelessness
Sponsors: Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP; The Home Depot

The Project

Amy will create an “attorney of the day” program in the courthouse to provide legal assistance and outreach to low-income people in Greater Atlanta facing eviction and homelessness, and partner with community groups to educate and empower tenants about their legal rights.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Every week in court, landlord-tenant cases number in the hundreds and the vast majority of tenants face eviction without legal assistance in the Atlanta metro area. In recent years, the rapid pace of gentrification and the foreclosure crisis has jeopardized fair access to affordable housing, displacing low-income communities of color. For the most vulnerable in the community, attaining housing security is an important step toward ending the cycle of poverty and finding stability to move forward.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Amy is the right person for the project because:
• Since starting law school, she has worked in the area of landlord/tenant law and with housing justice movements that protect the rights of low-income people of color
• She possesses the skills and experience to provide compassionate, community-centered legal services to her clients and the community she will work with
• She is passionate about using law as tool for social change and for creating better communities by stopping displacement and homelessness
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship: 
In the first six months, Amy will:
• Build relationships with housing specific community-based organizations in Atlanta’s low-income communities of color
• Work with these organizations to identify specific housing issues affecting the population and develop strategies to address them
• Hold legal clinics at the organization, and develop “Know Your Tenants’ Rights” trainings
• Establish the groundwork to bring the “attorney of the day” table to the courthouse and begin offering limited assistance representation to people facing eviction

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