Andrew Chen

  • Hosted by Public Counsel
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location Los Angeles, California
  • Law school University of Virginia School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2015
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Andrew helped homeless youth in West Los Angeles escape homelessness by working with Public Counsel to create a new legal clinic at Safe Place for Youth (SPY), a drop-in shelter and service provider, which provided access to critical legal services relating to civil penalties, housing, employment, education, and community outreach.

On a national level, youth homelessness is a quiet crisis that has been growing for decades. This crisis is particularly acute in Southern California, including the neighborhood of Venice on the west side of Los Angeles, which has been a haven for many years for homeless persons, including an increasing number of homeless youth. Homeless youth are often targeted for robbery, physical assault, and sexual assault. They are also targets for police, who issue tickets to them for offenses such as jaywalking, sleeping in public, public urination, and many others. Homeless youth often do not have the resources to get to court, let alone pay the fines. As a result, many youth accumulate failures to appear and bench warrants for their arrest. These tickets not only prevent youth from seeking the protection of law enforcement, but also make it extremely difficult for them to enroll in school, find employment, or gain housing. There is currently no legal provider in Venice to help homeless youth with these issues and other related issues.

Fellowship Highlights

During his Fellowship, Andrew:

  • Worked with SPY to set up a comprehensive intake process for both drop-in visits and proactive street outreach
  • Collaborated with the Los Angeles-based Coalition to end Youth Homelessness to create “Know Your Rights” educational programming for homeless youth
  • Represented clients in court, arguing for the dismissal of their tickets and warrants

Meet Other Fellows Like Andrew

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Max Tipping

Host: Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Emily Benfer

Host: Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless

Sponsor: Arnold & Porter LLP

Katara J. Jordan

Host: Columbia Legal Services

Sponsor: Intellectual Ventures, Perkins Coie LLP

Jennifer Luczkowiak

Host: Law Foundation of Silicon Valley

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig Fellowship Foundation