Julia Mizutani

  • Hosted by American Civil Liberties Union of Washington
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location Seattle, Washington
  • Law school Georgetown University Law Center
  • Issue area Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Julia brings litigation and engages in advocacy in Washington to expand the right to shelter for youth and reduce the criminalization of homelessness.

Many systemic gaps limit the prevention of and pathways out of youth homelessness. These include a severe lack of shelter beds and transitional housing for youth; restrictions on shelter stays; and inadequate transition planning from youth detention. Many jurisdictions in Washington have implemented policies and practices that criminalize young people for being poor, which only exacerbates these issues.

As a first-generation American raised substantially below the federal poverty line, Julia’s personal experience, as well as her professional legal experience, motivates her commitment to housing justice.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

During the first year of the Fellowship, Julia has:

  • Submitted a comment to the Washington Supreme Court that advocated to pass a new rule proposal to quash all warrants for youth who are not a serious danger to public safety. Permanently limiting the issuance of warrants would positively impact unhoused youth by ensuring that they were not incarcerated for behaviors like missing a court hearing. This new rule passed in an 8-1 vote!
  • Filed six amicus briefs to the Washington Supreme Court which advocated on behalf of housing unstable youth and the rights of unhoused people, and advocated against the criminalization of youth.
  • Supported the ACLU in filing two lawsuits, one challenged the Seattle’s “sweeps” of encampments and one challenged Pierce County’s practice of referring court debt to collection agencies.
  • Involved youth who have experienced the juvenile court system, the child welfare system, and homelessness to write recommendations for the Washington Supreme Court and Washington Legislators.
  • Joined the Washington Coalition of Homeless Youth Advocates and attended monthly meetings.

Next Steps

In the next year, Julia plans to:

  • Submit and present a report to the Washington Supreme Court about the intersection of the juvenile court system and youth homelessness.
  • Bring litigation challenging ordinances that effectively ban shelters and housing services in municipalities and potentially also advocate to enforce a law which ensures that youth exiting systems of care do not exit into homelessness.
  • Create more resources for youth experiencing homelessness, such as a pamphlet, zine, or app.

Media

Reducing Inequalities, Advancing Human Rights

Safe and stable housing is not a theoretical issue for me, it is a life-changing necessity; one that allowed me to be here today only because my family secured housing when I was fifteen.

Julia Mizutani /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Julia

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Andrew Neuhauser

Host: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.

Sponsor: Ohio Access to Justice Foundation

Sara Simon Tompkins

Host: National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

Sponsor: Individual Donors, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Vallen Solomon

Host: King County Bar Association's Housing Justice Project

Sponsor: Costco Wholesale, The Raikes Foundation

Current Fellow

Michael Deemer

Host: Ohio State Legal Services Association

Sponsor: Ohio Access to Justice Foundation