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NAACP Housing Navigator Pilot Project

The Housing Navigator Pilot will respond to a slice of the housing problem through two interconnected program components: An NAACP-led community navigator program, and a new pro bono diversion effort. The Columbia NAACP branch has a particularly robust presence and housing committee. Based out of the branch (including virtually), and after receiving training, navigators will serve as a coordinated access and service point. Focusing initially on tenants who are behind on rent, they’ll help identify individuals on the verge of eviction; conduct intake for those who reach out through the virtual intake form, by email, by phone, or in person; provide information about tenant rights and options (while steering clear of Unauthorized Practice of Law); and, perhaps most importantly, directly connect tenants to existing legal services, nonlegal services, and rental assistance.

Navigators will also be backstopped by a new, stepped-up pro-bono attorney program. Working alongside the navigators, trained attorneys will represent tenants directly in virtual landlord-tenant negotiations. Over time, these lawyers will be able to take on full-scope representation in failure-to-pay cases.

Purpose of project

  1. To provide opportunities for law students to work alongside pro bono attorneys and low-income clients
  2. To provide skills development and enhancement opportunities for law students
  3. To create an awareness of the problems and rewards of being a public interest attorney
  4. To observe the housing legal system in action and work on solutions
  5. To provide opportunities to participate in negotiations

Requirements or qualifications

Law students must:

  1. be a good academic standing
  2. complete and submit the Volunteer Enrollment Form
  3. have completed one semester of law school
  4. have an interest in serving the indigent population
  5. have an interest in providing relief for an emerging issue

Responsibilities of organizations

The NAACP Housing Navigator Pilot Program, Columbia NAACP Branch and associated attorneys must:

  1. agree to properly supervise the work of the law student
  2. provide clear and timely instructions and training
  3. seek opportunities to expose the students to various tasks
  4. provide feedback when possible.

Responsibilities of the students

The students must:

  1. communicate effectively and efficiently with the NAACP Housing Navigator Pilot Project office and the supervising attorneys
  2. complete tasks in a timely and competent manner
  3. seek assistance when needed
  4. perform duties professionally
  5. treat this volunteer opportunity as if it was a paying or for-credit position

Skills Opportunities

The following Core Skills may be associated with this particular volunteer opportunity. Not all tasks will contain all of these skills. See the complete Core Competencies & Skills Inventory for more details.

  • Core Skill: Oral Communication and Listening Abilities
  • Core Skill: Writing Skills
  • Core Skill: General Research Skills
  • Core Skill: Critical Reading Abilities
  • Core Skill: Task Organization and Management
  • Core Skills: Professionalism

Next Steps?


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