Sarah Erlich

  • Hosted by Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County
  • Sponsored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
  • Service location Los Angeles, California
  • Law school University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
  • Issue area Housing/Homelessness
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Sarah worked to prevent and address the effects of childhood lead poisoning in Los Angeles County via two Medical Legal Community Partnerships through direct representation, litigation, community education, and collaborative efforts in policy reform.

There is no known safe blood lead level in children. Lead poisoning can cause physical illness, cognitive impairment, and behavioral issues. Lead-poisoned children are seven times more likely to drop out of school and six times more likely to enter the juvenile justice system. The primary sources of childhood lead poisoning are from paint chips and lead-contaminated dust in housing built before 1978. More than 37 million households nationwide contain lead-based paint, and thousands of children in Los Angeles County and throughout the nation have elevated blood lead levels. Children most at risk of lead exposure are from low-income families, racial or ethnic minorities, entering foster care, or recent immigrants who reside in older, poorly maintained rental units. Many parents of at-risk children are limited English speakers and/or immigrants who are especially vulnerable to exploitation when they do not know their rights to safe housing.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Sarah has:

  • Created the first known Medical Legal Community Partnership to prevent and address the effects of childhood lead poisoning on the West Coast
  • Advocated for the safe remediation of lead-based paint hazards and other health-harming housing conditions, relocation assistance for tenants, and damages for constructive eviction and for living with substandard conditions through direct representation and litigation
  • Educated tenants, attorneys, pediatricians, law students, and medical students about legal interventions for individuals and families living with lead hazards
  • Participated in two statewide work groups dedicated to childhood lead poisoning prevention and the elimination of substandard housing conditions by contributing legal research to support policy reforms

What’s Next

Sarah intends to promote the enactment and implementation of policies that support childhood lead poisoning prevention and the remediation of substandard housing conditions so that every individual and family can enjoy safe housing.

Meet Other Fellows Like Sarah

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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