LAWYERS working with THE POOR AND THE IGNORED TO END POVERTY AND IMPLEMENT THE DEMANDS OF JUSTICE
As we practice sevA (Selfless service), we must remind ourselves that the public interest comes before ours, that the truth is our guide, that Empowered Clients power social movements, that We Lead by Following, that we act transparently and with integrity, and that what we can do we must do.
“Life isn’t worth living, unless it is lived for someone else.” Albert Einstein
“I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” Malcolm X
“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.” Cesar Chavez
“There goes my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.” Gandhi
“My mother always told me,'hide your face-people are looking at you'. I would reply, 'It does not matter; I am also looking at them.” Malala Yousafzai
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” MLK
"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
"A lawyer should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor... cannot afford adequate legal assistance, and should therefore devote professional time and civic influence in their behalf." - Preamble, MRPC
PROGRAMS::The everyday WORK THAT KEEPS US GROUNDED
Data. Directed. Disruptive?
Evidence-informed advocacy projects aiming for equity of access to the levers of power.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
- REHABILITATIVE SENTENCING
Using the criminal justice system to reinforce prosocial attitudes and behavior
- HOMELESS COURT CONSULTING
Technical assistance to courts nationwide seeking to establish a homeless court
- CLEANING COOP
Anchor institution-supported cooperative of returning citizens
- REALLY GOOD EMPLOYEES
- Campaign highlighting financial and other benefits of hiring returning citizens
ACCESS TO HOUSING
- THE EQUITY-BUILDING LEASE
Lease incentivizing long-term tenancy to benefit of both landlord and tenant
- STREET SEED
White paper on using tax credits to spur community-owned housing developments
- EVICTION SUMMONS REFORM
Proposal to modify MI Court Rules to require tenants rights info with Summons
- PROPERTY TAX POVERTY EXEMPTION
Advocacy of exemption application process reform to improve awareness and access
Truth to power
Our clients Mecca, Dennis, and Lesia, along with Patti Carey, a past team member, testified before the Michigan Supreme Court to advocate for court rules changes that would hopefully end pay-or-stay sentencing. and WHEN Mecca, Dennis, and Lesia spoke their truth, The justices leaned in.
OUR STORY & OUR TEAM
We started Street Democracy, a 501c3, to bring legal services to the homeless where they are, be that a picnic table in a park or St. Leo's basement soup kitchen.
We soon realized that our clients' legal issues were not the only bars jailing them in poverty and that until we addressed the causes of their condition, we were merely performing legal triage. We needed to work better, smarter.
So now we partner with social service agencies to provide coordinated human and legal services to maximize the efficacy of our efforts and make their progress stick. We combine that experience with the our clients' and partners' voices to identify and implement solutions to systems and practices that perpetuate poverty and injustice.
We work to create that a world where everyone's voice is heard and no one is left behind.