Far too often, people experiencing homelessness don’t feel seen. It’s been described to me as feeling like a ghost; you’re there, but nobody sees you. Instead, those experiencing homelessness are put in the unenviable position of trying to meet their basic needs in a world where people turn away from their suffering because it’s easier to pretend the problem isn’t there. Therein lies the reason I was drawn to doing my clinic work at McGeorge’s Homeless Advocacy Clinic; I want to do my part to make sure that the homeless in our community feel truly seen.
I’ve been working at the Homeless Advocacy Clinic twice a week since the school year began last August. The work has been a very fulfilling experience. As a Certified Law Student, I have learned many valuable skills – client interviewing and counseling, case management, oral and written advocacy, and office procedures associated with working in a law office.
The best part about working at the Homeless Advocacy Clinic has been forming relationships with the other six student attorneys and with our supervising attorney, Professor Ron Hochbaum. I love that my colleagues and I all have different backgrounds, interests, and skills, making it more fun to collaborate.
Professor Hochbaum allows us to manage our cases, including decision-making authority in most situations, even allowing us to make mistakes as part of our growth process. I’m grateful for his guidance and support, which have been instrumental in developing my lawyering skills throughout my Homeless Advocacy Clinic experience. Additionally, Professor Hochbaum has been very responsive to my needs and feedback. His door is always open for everything from questions to needing to vent.
I believe that the homelessness crisis is one of the most pressing social justice issues across the country. Public benefit programs are often overly complicated to apply for, let alone get approved for. Other public policies treat homelessness as a nuisance for housed residents rather than a societal problem that needs solving. These are the areas where the Homeless Advocacy Clinic provides assistance. We advocate for the best possible outcomes for our clients and always have their best interests in mind.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world,” Mahatma Gandhi is purported to have said. This is why it is essential to give back to the community. At one point or another, we all need a helping hand. We just need someone to see us first.
By Brian Taghadossi, a second-year law student at McGeorge School of Law.