Kate Thorstad

  • Hosted by Disability Rights Louisiana
  • Sponsored by Disaster Resilience Program
  • Service location New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Disability Rights, Disaster Recovery, Disaster Response and Preparedness
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Disaster Resilience Program

The Project

Kate will work to eliminate or mitigate barriers to critical programs, services, and housing for people with disabilities in Louisiana who have been adversely impacted by disasters.

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida, many Louisianans with disabilities are facing housing insecurity or eviction, being denied appropriate services or accommodations, or are facing discrimination based on their disabilities.

As a public defender, Kate witnessed her clients with disabilities get stuck in a revolving door of system-involvement as their basic needs remained ignored and their rights denied both inside and outside of the criminal legal system. This cycle was amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasingly frequent and powerful storms that batter Louisiana, all of which multiplied the poverty and stress of my most vulnerable clients. The Disaster Resilience Program at Equal Justice Works gives Kate an opportunity to directly address the needs of Louisianans with disabilities in the wake of these disasters and to build resilience moving forward.

Fellowship Plans

While much of Kate’s work will be immediately serving those impacted by COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida, she will also focus on expanding stakeholder relationships and cultivating partnerships among the disaster legal community, service providers, and community social services providers. She will strategize, plan, and conduct training and outreach to communities and organizations to build disaster resilience moving forward. Kate will share information and resources for disaster survivors and attorneys supporting communities affected by disasters.

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