Photo of Elisabeth Hieber

Elisabeth Hieber

  • Hosted by The Center for Disability and Elder Law
  • Sponsored by PepsiCo, Inc.
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Issue area Elderly, LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Elisabeth will help low-income LGBT elders thrive by providing culturally responsive legal services, outreach, and education in the areas of housing and estate planning.

Due to lifetimes of discrimination and formative development characterized by stigmatization, many elders who are members of the LGBT community face greater economic, social, and legal disparities as compared to their non-LGBT peers. Accordingly, LGBT elders need more legal resources to ensure equitable access to housing and to secure their chosen family and final directives. However, LGBT elders in Chicago lack legal resources that are culturally responsive to their particular needs. While some resources in Chicago serve seniors generally, many LGBT elders are hesitant to access these services out of fear of harassment, discrimination, or invalidation. Elisabeth’s project will meet this unmet need by establishing the first resource in Chicago specifically designed to provide culturally responsive legal advocacy to low-income LGBT elders.

Elisabeth went to law school because of their desire to advocate for vulnerable, marginalized members of the community, especially elders and individuals living with disabilities. Elisabeth developed this project because their identity as a queer, non-binary person as well as their professional legal experiences helped them recognize that elders in the LGBT community face intersectional marginalization and therefore need more culturally responsive legal resources to ensure LGBT elders can age equitably and with dignity.

Fellowship Plans

Elisabeth’s project will establish mobile legal clinics at LGBT-supportive organizations where LGBT elders can receive culturally responsive legal services, including assistance completing estate planning documents, and representation in state court proceedings concerning issues including housing, eviction, and landlord-tenant disputes. Additionally, Elisabeth’s project will develop a pro bono initiative in which volunteer attorneys in the Chicago area will help LGBT elders complete advance directives and power of attorney documents in workshops hosted at LGBT-supportive locations. Finally, Elisabeth’s project will develop and implement an interactive educational campaign to provide LGBT elders with a culturally responsive space to access and discuss information about common legal issues.

As a member of the LGBT community, I wanted to work to ensure that the elders of my community have the resources and support they need to age with dignity and pride.

Elisabeth Hieber /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

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