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April 2024 Updates: Keep the Promise of Equal Justice

SLO resident packs up belongings while speaking with CRLA attorney
Mayo 3, 2024

Photo: San Luis Obispo resident Ashlynn Miles (left) organizes belongings while speaking with CRLA attorney Sasha Aguilar. Credit: David Middlecamp for The Tribune

Dear friends,

Last week, as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in an important case that will shape policy on how we treat our unhoused neighbors, I was reminded of why civil legal aid is so important.

Our nation was founded on the promise of equal justice under the law. That promise is a crucial safeguard to democracy and basic human rights.

But the promise falls apart if people can’t access justice simply because they don’t have the resources to hire an attorney.

CRLA advocates and co-counsel recently settled a federal lawsuit we filed against the City of San Luis Obispo for claims related to City policies that penalize people because they are unhoused.

Guided by our clients and their experiences, the settlement centered on the City’s interactions with unhoused residents and providing additional shelters. The City agreed to numerous policy improvements, including enhanced training for City staff on de-escalation and mental health crisis intervention.

The criminalization of homelessness is a pervasive problem throughout rural California and beyond. CRLA will continue to stand alongside our clients as they hold cities and municipalities accountable to respect all residents' civil rights.

You can read more about the SLO case in our Systemic Advocacy Update below. I hope you will share my pride in all the ways CRLA clients and staff are protecting democracy and keeping the promise of equal justice.

Thank you for your continued support!

In community,
Jessica M. Jewell
Executive Director

Staff of California Rural Legal Assistance lined up in front of a stage with large white letters CRLA and a white banner hanging in background

Systemic Advocacy Update Spring 2024

Systemic advocacy is CRLA’s hallmark and a key to lasting change for low-income communities. Our recent systemic advocacy includes work to:

  • defend the rights of unhoused people
  • keep Section 8 voucher recipients housed
  • support LGBTQ+ students
  • challenge racially discriminatory access to safe drinking water

Read the full update

Outside Coachella, Community-led Development

Coachella and the surrounding valley have been home to close-knit farmworker communities since long before the music festivals. Learn how one community turned a legal victory with CRLA into wider collaboration and transformed residents’ wellbeing— without the gentrification that too often pushes people out.

Watch now

photo of attendees at language justice disability justice retreat April 2024 with logos of participating organizations pictured below photo

First CA Language and Disability Justice Retreat

Advocates gathered in Sacramento to explore the long history of language and disability justice and selected priorities that aim to weave access and inclusion into every aspect of our state government, from how laws are made to how information and services are provided.

Read the full story

smiling man wearing blue suit coat and red pagri

2024-25 Law Fellowships Now Open!

Please share our 2024-25 Law Fellowships information with your networks. A few minutes of your time today will help us find fellows who can make a lasting impact in rural California. Thank you!


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