USC Law creates unique externship to help homeless

In Los Angeles, the average monthly rent for an apartment is $2,530, according to Rent Café. The average home price is about $700,000, Zillow estimates.

Those are contributing factors as to why homelessness jumped 16% last year in the city.

It’s hard — really hard — to afford L.A.

And the city’s homeless problem is what prompted the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law, to create a first-ever special topics legal externship to teach student how to advocate for those either on the brink of homelessness or homeless already.

Beginning this spring, the class will be taught by James Gilliam, coordinator, homeless prevention with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. He's also an attorney. 

According to a story on the school’s news website, he hopes students will become inspired to address the growing problem.

“We need more lawyers who are interested in issues like this and have public interest goals. I hope some of the students who get out on the front lines will have a spark in their belly that drives them to do this for their career.”

According to the school, the program will be modeled after the Lawyers Preventing and Ending Homelessness (PEHP) Project.

“The goal of PEHP is to determine which people are currently homeless and in need of housing, or at risk of becoming homeless due to eviction, and help them find housing,” the story said. 

“Our immediate goal is to provide well-trained externs and create more resources for the clients,” Gilliam told the news service. “We will give students great experience and give the legal services organizations great externs. We hope students will enroll and get involved in meaningful solutions to the homelessness crisis at this stage of their legal careers.”



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