The Public Justice Center envisions a just society where Black, Latine, Indigenous, Asian, and other historically exploited people are free from systems of oppression, exploitation, and all expressions of discrimination. This will shift power and resources to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other people of color) across Maryland.
We envision that our organization is actively anti-racist and perpetually learns and applies anti-racist principles to our internal work and our advocacy as we partner with our clients and communities in pursuit of liberation.
Finally, we envision the individuals within our organization are liberated themselves, and we recognize that all liberation (our own, our clients’, our communities’) is intertwined.
To end oppression and dismantle racist systems and institutions that perpetuate oppression in any form, including white supremacy, both internally at the PJC and externally in our broader communities, by dedicating funds, time, and staff to follow through with these commitments.
PJC strives to be anti-racist, and there’s a long road ahead.
As a member of the Fair Development Roundtable (formerly the Baltimore Housing Roundtable), we advocate for Baltimore City to invest in neighborhood-driven development that doesn’t price residents out. We are advocating with the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Commission to ensure that funds are directed to residents who have the greatest need and neighborhoods that have faced decades of racial segregation and redlining, fueling plans for community-oriented development. In particular, we hope that these funds will fuel development of community land trusts (CLT). A CLT keeps properties affordable and in the hands of the community by holding onto the land permanently and only allowing people with low incomes to buy or rent.
Co-wrote the Fair Development Roundtable’s report, Community + Land + Trust: Tools for Development Without Displacement. The report details how Baltimore’s development policies have failed to create affordable housing and good paying jobs for low-income residents and offers an alternative vision that prioritizes human rights and human needs.
Together with co-counsel, represented five residents and organizations in a complaint against Baltimore County for decades of policies that have reinforced racial segregation and had disparate impact on people with disabilities. The complaint resulted in a settlement that will provide 1,000 new units of affordable housing in communities of opportunity in the County and assist 2,000 County residents who have vouchers in moving to communities of opportunity.
Worked in coalition to pass a ballot initiative that established an Affordable Housing Trust Fund in Baltimore City.
Negotiated an agreement with Baltimore City and passed legislation committing the City to allocate between $15 and $20 million annually over five years to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Contributed to the Fair Development Roundtable’s report, Fair Development, Race Equity and Baltimore’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The report provides proposals for how money in the trust fund should be allocated, outlining criteria for housing development such as permanent affordability, race equity, employment of Baltimore residents, environmental sustainability, participation of neighborhood residents, and accessibility.
Every child should have access to an education. But school district practices often keep kids from attending and succeeding in school. Overuse of suspension and expulsion pushes kids out of school without addressing the underlying causes of behavior. Paperwork requirements, zoning policies, fees, school uniform rules, and transportation policies make it hard for students who are homeless or in foster care to enroll and attend classes.
The Public Justice Center’s Education Stability Project seeks to advance racial equity in public education by combatting the overuse of practices like suspension, expulsion, and school-based arrest that disproportionately target Black and brown children and push students out of school. We also seek to eliminate barriers to school enrollment and success facing homeless children and children in foster care. We use a range of legal and advocacy tools to improve the systems that educate Maryland’s youth.
In particular, the Education Stability Project:
Addresses practices that push students out of school, including suspension, expulsion, transfers to alternative school, and school-based arrest. These practices can prevent or discourage young people from staying on track to complete their education and harm youth of color at a higher rate than their white peers. As the lead member of the Maryland Suspension Representation Project, we take on these challenges through individual representation in suspension and expulsion cases, know-your-rights education for youth and parents, and systemic advocacy.
Advocates to ensure that children who are homeless or in foster care can stay in school, by enforcing the McKinney-Vento Act and Fostering Connections Act across Maryland. These laws give homeless students and students in foster care the right to stay in school and receive the support needed for their success. This support includes the opportunity to stay in the same school following an address change, school transportation, waiver of school fees, guarantee of immediate enrollment without paperwork, and many other rights.
If you are looking for legal assistance, call us at (410) 625-9409 or visit our Get Legal Help pages for more information on school suspensions and expulsions and students who are homeless or in foster care.
Tackled, arrested, suspended…for trying to call for a ride home: Advocacy reverses inappropriate suspension, prompts training of school staff