Nearly 200 homeless clients received free legal help last Saturday at Project Homeless Connect, a one-day event at Boutwell Auditorium where several agencies provided services. The Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program coordinated the legal area, but could not have accomplished this great amount of good without significant help.
Over 130 judges, attorneys, service providers, and students volunteered. Some 100 clients obtained state identification on the spot because Birmingham City Judge Andra Sparks, Jefferson County Judges Stephen Wallace and Katrina Ross, Bessemer Cut-Off Judge David Carpenter, and other municipal judges listed below resolved legal issues so clients could get their IDs.
Without government IDs, homeless clients can neither get jobs nor obtain housing, thus forcing them to remain homeless. What the judges at Project Homeless Connect did was essentially provide clients an opportunity to end their homelessness. Clients also received help from volunteer attorneys, including many who are continuing to help the clients they saw on Saturday. Jefferson County Public Defenders, YWCA Domestic Violence Attorneys, Legal Services Alabama, and Birmingham Legal Aid Society provided additional legal assistance.
Law students from Cumberland, the University of Alabama, and Jones, and also students from Birmingham Southern and UAB interviewed clients to ensure respectful and professional assistance from the moment clients stepped into the legal area.