Public Interest and Social Justice Practice : Criminalizing Homelessness

Class Information Spring 2022

  • 2 units
  • Class No.: 42219
  • Meets: Thursday
  • Time: 4:10 pm - 5:50 pm
  • Location: 326
  • Exam:
  • Course Description

Michelle Oberman

Katharine and George Alexander Professor of Law

Public Interest and Social Justice Practice : Criminalizing Homelessness

Certificate(s): Public Interest and Social Justice Law

Course Description:

his experiential learning seminar undertakes a project-based approach to mapping Santa Clara County’s current legal and policy responses to homelessness. The widely-accepted truth is that the best long-term solution to the problems associated with homelessness lies in finding permanent supportive housing for those who are unhoused. In the absence of the resources and political will needed to create such housing, it is vital to assess the efficacy of our current allocation of resources. The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the struggles for our county’s unhoused population, throwing into stark relief the lack of coordination and inefficiencies in our current system, and making our endeavor particularly timely, if not urgent.

Class Notes:

This two-credit experiential learning class takes on Santa Clara County’s current legal and policy responses to homelessness. Working with lawyers from the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office, along with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley’s experts in housing and mental health, we will target our County’s current responses to homelessness, with particular attention to the costly ways in which we are using the criminal legal system. Aligning our work with advocates working with the unhoused, as well as with experts from our own campus, we will mount an initiative that promotes alternative short-term responses to these challenges. Our work product will provide a foundation for engaging the relevant local stakeholders to work toward a more rational allocation of resources. At the end of the semester, we will be presenting our work product to a broad coalition of these stakeholders and decision-makers.


Interested students should email Professor Oberman ( for registration permission.