Professor Allyson E. Gold, Assistant Professor of Clinical Legal Instruction and Director of the Elder Law Clinic, will be honored with the 2018 Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project for work she supervised for the Health Justice Project in Chicago.
CLEA established the award to honor and recognize a case or project that contributes to the public good, especially projects that effectively call attention to and/or significantly redress a high priority need of underserved or low-income residents.
“I am incredibly humbled by the recognition and hope to use it as an opportunity to also highlight the outstanding work of the Alabama Elder Law Clinic students,” Gold said.
Between 2015-2017, the Health Justice Project, a medical-legal partnership clinic at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, addressed antiquated federal laws that forced children residing in federally assisted housing to become lead poisoned at four times the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention level before requiring any lead hazard inspection. At the same time, zero-bedroom units were exempt from any protection and families were forced to stay in the unit poisoning their children if they wanted to retain their rental assistance.
After representing families and investigating the issue nationwide, the students took a “big tent” approach and, with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and Green & Healthy Homes Initiative as partners, convened a coalition of affected families, numerous law school clinics, national nonprofits and experts from public health, medical, scientific, and legal fields. Students drafted a Petition for Rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act urging HUD to update the Lead Safe Housing Rule, launched a social media campaign, conducted outreach to policymakers, drafted model comments to federal rulemaking, trained families in advocacy skills, and provided technical and drafting advice to members of Congress.
As a result, HUD updated its regulations to match the CDC standard, Congress amended federal law to remove the zero-bedroom unit exemption; the Government Accountability Office conducted a study on the issue; and senators introduced a bi-partisan bill requiring primary prevention of lead poisoning in federally assisted housing, among other successes.