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Headshot of Heather Odell

Heather Odell

  • Hosted by Catholic Legal Services, Archdiocese of Miami, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP
  • Service location Miami, Florida
  • Law school Boston College Law School
  • Issue area Housing/Homelessness, Immigrant Populations
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Heather (she/her/hers) will advocate for immigrants experiencing homelessness in Miami-Dade County through holistic immigration and public benefits representation.

Medicaid, cash assistance, and housing programs play a critical role in the lives of some of Miami-Dade’s most vulnerable residents: the over 3,700 people experiencing homelessness. For homeless immigrants, the barriers to accessing these vital services are amplified by threshold eligibility challenges and delays in the documentation needed to prove their immigration status. These needs are pressing in Miami-Dade, home to one of the densest immigrant populations in the country, where local shelters report increases in newly arrived immigrants in their care. Despite the need for holistic legal advocacy, immigration and public benefits are currently addressed in silos—a gap that Heather aims to bridge through her Fellowship.

Heather’s prior work in refugee resettlement exposed her to the challenges that immigrants face navigating complex bureaucracies to connect to public benefits and services. In her master’s program, she researched immigrants’ barriers to healthcare and is committed to addressing these challenges as an Equal Justice Works Fellow and throughout her legal career.

Fellowship Plans

Heather will provide onsite legal services and education at partner homeless shelters in Miami-Dade County and will represent clients in immigration and public benefits matters. She will identify patterns of challenges facing immigrant clients as they seek public benefits and will pursue advocacy to address systemic barriers. Throughout her Fellowship, she will build partnerships with diverse stakeholders serving unhoused individuals in Miami-Dade, supporting efforts to address the unique legal needs of immigrants within the county’s homelessness response.

Media

Graduate Launches Career with Major Fellowship

Greenberg Traurig Sponsors Record 201st Equal Justice Works Fellow

In my work with immigrant clients, I have repeatedly seen immigration status open or close doors to healthcare, rental assistance, and other services that are especially vital for individuals experiencing homelessness. To respond effectively to homelessness, then, we must account for the unique legal needs of immigrants.

Heather Odell /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Heather

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Adetunji Olude

Host: Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)

Sponsor: Latham & Watkins LLP

Photo of Tim Sanders Szabo

Timothy Sanders

Host: Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota

Sponsor: 3M Company, Faegre Baker Daniels

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Peter Weiss

Host: Pangea Legal Services

Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, The City of San Jose

Photo of Lydia Sinkus

Lydia Sinkus

Host: OneJustice

Sponsor: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, PayPal