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Indybay Feature
Homeless Legal Assistance Office Opening June 15
by Steve Pleich (spleich [at]
Saturday Jun 12th, 2021 11:48 AM
Project Seeking Local Legal Professionals
The Homeless Persons Legal Assistance Project was founded in 2016 with a mission to “advocate for and support people experiencing homelessness in our community, to provide a forum for discussion of the many challenges facing residents of our community who are unable to find nightly shelter and to serve as a legal resource for our unhoused friends and neighbors”. The project is a registered California public benefit corporation and we enjoy federal tax exempt status through a fiscal sponsorship provided by the United Nations Association of Santa Cruz County.

Our original mission envisioned providing an informational and self-help service to assist homeless residents navigate the criminal justice system with a goal of reducing the legal obstacles to employment, housing, medical and mental health services and public benefits. In this, to be candid, the project was only minimally effective. Nevertheless, the need for legal assistance among our unsheltered friends and neighbors has remained unaddressed by other resources. And despite federal court action that seemingly protected the right of people experiencing homelesness to pursue available shelter without overt criminalization, the current political climate has created a culture designed to drive the unsheltered from our community. The recent passage of the onerous and arguably unconstitutional Camping Services and Standards Ordinance (CSSO) being but one such example.

In response to what we believe will be an exponential increase in the variety and number of municipal code citations issued to homeless residents, the project is expanding its services. Beginning Tuesday, June 15, we will be establishing regular office hours at 903 Pacific Avenue directly across from the Metro Transit Station in Downtown Santa Cruz. Hours will be Monday thru Friday from 10:00am to 12:30pm. The program will be staffed initially by Steve Pleich in his capacity as Executive Director. Steve holds a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from Peninsula College of Law and is bar eligible but not a member of the California State Bar Association. His role will be limited to intake and citation review.

The project is asking local attorneys to pledge one (1) hour a month to provide legal consultation to project participants as needed. Their participation would take the form of one forty-five (45) minute teleconference consultation with a fifteen (15) minute follow up with project staff. Homeless participants would be expressly advised that the consultation is one-time only.

The project will not just address the obvious and immediate need for legal assistance for the unhoused, it will provide an opportunity for the unhoused to empower themselves and assert their rights as community members.

Please feel free to contact Steve Pleich directly if you have any questions or wish to volunteer legal services.

Steve Pleich, JD
Executive Director
Homeless Persons Legal Assistance Project
[Corporate Entity Number CA4326176]

(831) 466-6078
spleich [at]

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QuestionsRobert NorseMonday Jun 21st, 2021 6:46 PM
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