2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Eugene Chen

Eugene Chen

Name of Host Organization: New York Legal Assistance Group
City, State: New York, New York
Issue area: Civil Rights/Civil Liberties, Gay/Lesbian Rights Housing/Homelessness
Sponsors: The Paul Rapoport Foundation

The Project

Eugene provided legal advocacy, outreach, and education to low-income LGBTQ people in New York City’s communities of color who were at risk of eviction or experiencing housing discrimination due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
LGBTQ people of color, particularly those who are transgender, gender non-conforming, or affected by HIV/AIDS, face greater rates of poverty and homelessness due to persistent discrimination in housing and employment based on their race and LGBTQ identities. For the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ community, attaining housing security is an important step toward ending the cycle of poverty and homelessness. In recent years, the rapid pace of gentrification in New York City’s communities of color has jeopardized fair access to affordable housing, thereby displacing low-income communities of color. Through legal services, outreach, and education, Eugene has prevented displacement and addressed discrimination experienced by some of New York City’s low-income LGBTQ population in communities of color.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Eugene has:
• Provided legal services, ranging from advice to representation, in over 360 cases involving housing or other legal issues
• Saved clients from eviction, including one client who was able to keep his affordable rent-controlled apartment after 18 months of intense litigation
• Won a dismissal of a case against a client, creating a gloss on housing law which was published in the NY Law Journal
• Brought media attention to the hardships LGBTQ people face in housing
• Contributed LGBTQ perspectives to testimony on proposed laws to increase testing for systemic housing discrimination and improve procedures for survivors of intimate partner violence interacting with the New York City Housing Authority
• Facilitated Know Your Rights Discussions at New York City community-based organizations
• Advocated for LGBTQ people experiencing chronic homelessness
What's Next: 
In the next six months, Eugene plans to:
• Provide representation on more complex housing cases
• Affirmatively address housing discrimination faced by LGBTQ people
• Expand outreach and Know Your Rights Discussions to additional community-based organizations
• Engage in advocacy for LGBTQ people experiencing chronic homelessness
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Eugene plans to:
• Affirmatively litigate against unscrupulous landlords to keep New Yorkers in stable, affordable housing in the Bronx with Legal Services NYC
• Continue fighting to end systemic discrimination against LGBTQ communities
• Continue working with the LGBTQ community towards equity
The Right Person For This Project: 

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