Vallen provides legal advocacy to young adults experiencing or exiting systems of care into homelessness, through holistic, youth-centered services and increased legal literacy on evictions and tenant rights.
Eviction is a major driver of homelessness. In 2019, King County estimated that over 1,000 young adults were experiencing homelessness on any given night in the County. People of color and those identifying as LGBTQ+ are overrepresented among the homeless population. In recent focus groups convened by Legal Counsel for Youth and Children (“LCYC”) and Housing Justice Project (“HJP”), service providers and young people expressed a need for developmentally appropriate legal assistance to help young adults understand their rights, as well as additional legal services if an eviction notice is served. There is also a need for accessible educational materials tailored to the needs of young adults to inform both staff and young adults surrounding tenants’ rights and evictions.
Vallen’s dedication to economic, gender, and racial justice motives his commitment to advocacy on behalf of all tenants.
Fellowship Highlights to Date
During the first year of the Fellowship, Vallen has:
- Provided representation to over 25 tenants facing eviction
- Provided counsel & advice or brief services to 90+ tenants with housing-related issues in King County through a hotline and help desk in the courthouse
- Established a referral network between the Housing Justice Project & Legal Counsel for Youth and Children to provide holistic services to young-adult tenants facing homelessness
- Presented to young adult groups and service providers – 850 individuals total – on tenants’ rights surrounding Washington’s eviction moratorium and the various changes in the law over the last year
- Created and shared eight educational short videos targeted towards young adults detailing specific tenants’ rights in Washington
- Presented to Costco’s legal team and recruited pro bono volunteers
In the next six months, Vallen plans to:
- Provide direct representation to tenants facing eviction in King County
- Meet directly with young adults facing housing-related issues and learn more about housing issues that acutely impact young adults
- Get involved in policy work and legislative advocacy
- Build relationships with new community partners and organizers to expand this project’s reach
Being able to advocate for young tenants in such dire circumstances has implications that go far beyond a single eviction case. In fact, a successful life first begins with stable housing.
Vallen Solomon /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow
Candice worked to reduce the number of youth of color experiencing homelessness by providing holistic legal services with a race equity lens and engaging youth to inform and improve direct and systemic advocacy.
The 2017 King County Youth of Color Needs Assessment reported nearly 8,000 youth experience homelessness in King County annually, with youth of color notably and disproportionately affected. Youth struggling with homelessness need legal advice to understand their options for safety and to access emergency shelter, education, and medical care. Many youths may also need an attorney to help them navigate and access immigration relief, child protective services, and juvenile and family court proceedings. Candice’s project aimed to increase the awareness, accessibility, and cultural competency of civil legal aid to provide effective services for youth of color to remove these barriers to housing stability.
After volunteering with a local foster care organization and witnessing the multitude of issues that youth face in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, Candice knew she wanted to help improve the systems that heavily affect youths’ life trajectories.
During her two-year Fellowship, Candice:
- Became the first person at her host organization to file an Order of Limited Dissemination, and participate in a writ of habeas corpus hearing in a family law court
- Provided direct representation to 14 youth of color in landlord disputes, protection orders, family law hearings, and other civil legal issues
- Provided advice and referrals to 100 individuals
- Conducted outreach presentations for ten partners and service providers about LCYC’s services
- Co-created eight animated videos on civil legal rights for youth of color experiencing homelessness
Candice will remain with her host organization, LCYC, as a staff attorney. Candice is thrilled to continue working with such an amazing and supportive organization to expand civil legal services to young people.
Coming from a large family myself, I have always been inspired to do work that positively impacted children and their families.
Candice Dundy /
Equal Justice Works Fellow