National Housing Law Project Seeking Fellowship Candidates

Job Type

Full Time


Minimum: $45,000
Maximum: $50,000
Details: Salary levels are typically determined by the salary sponsor



Start Date


Application Deadline



United States


The National Housing Law Project (NHLP) is seeking applicants to sponsor for public interest fellowships beginning in fall 2019. This litigation-based fellowship will be located at our Richmond, Virginia office. This is a unique opportunity to join a passionate and dedicated staff of housing advocates during a critical moment in our nation’s history. Faced with a historic lack of affordable housing, our communities are threatened with the reduction and even elimination of critical federal resources that help low-income families obtain and maintain safe and stable housing. As a fellow at NHLP, you will help lead the national fight for the rights of tenants through litigation, education, collaboration, and collective action. For students who wish to begin their fellowship in fall 2019, applications are due to NHLP by Wednesday, July 18, 2018.


About NHLP


NHLP is a national nonprofit public interest law practice headquartered in San Francisco, California with offices in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. Our mission is to advance housing justice for the poor by increasing and preserving the supply of decent, affordable housing, by expanding low-income tenants’ and homeowners’ rights, and by increasing opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities. Established in 1968, NHLP serves as a legal support and advocacy center to legal services attorneys and affordable housing advocates throughout the country. Further information on NHLP is available at NHLP’s website:


Seeking Fellows!


NHLP encourages newly emerging public interest attorneys and graduating law students who are committed to our broad, substantive focus areas to seek our sponsorship for a post-graduate fellowship. Generally, NHLP serves only as the sponsoring organization, and does not provide fellowship funding. Common funding sources include Equal Justice Works, the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, school-sponsored fellowships, and the Soros Justice Fellowships. Potential fellows must first apply to NHLP for organizational sponsorship before applying to fellowship funding sources.

NHLP, with a staff of nationally recognized experts in federal housing law and offices in California, Washington D.C., and Virginia, provides the ideal professional home for the design and implementation of innovative fellowship projects. Fellowships at NHLP have helped to launch the public interest law careers of many dedicated attorneys. Recent projects included (1) implementation and enforcement of federally mandated housing protections for women affected by domestic violence under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) (2) guaranteeing language access to immigrants and people with limited English proficiency that access affordable housing and (3) in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders, working to guarantee tenants’ rights are protected during the roll-out of a new federal program aimed to preserve the nation’s public housing stock.

The ideal fellowship candidate will have:


·        Demonstrated commitment to working with and for low-income and underserved populations;

·        Extremely high-caliber legal research and writing skills;

·        Substantive experience in housing, economic justice, environmental justice, and/or related issues;

·        Demonstrated abilities to work independently as well as a member of a team;

·        Excellent communication skills; and

·        Be admitted, or plan to seek admission, to the bar of Virginia or another state no later than fall 2019.


NHLP is an equal opportunity employer who strives to reflect the diverse community it serves. Candidates who contribute to this diversity are strongly encouraged to apply. Reasonable accommodation is available for qualified individuals with disabilities, upon request.


How to Apply


To apply, please email a cover letter, resume, writing sample, unofficial transcript, and three references to Karlo Ng at Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and early applications are encouraged. For students who wish to begin their fellowship in fall 2019, applications are due to NHLP by Wednesday, July 18, 2018.


Possible Fellowship Projects


Depending on the applicant’s experiences and interests, possible fellowship projects could include, but are not limited to:


Removing Financial Barriers to Rental Housing: As homelessness and the shortage of affordable housing have increased, individuals and families who rely upon rental housing in the private, unsubsidized market have found themselves increasingly burdened by rent and utility costs that commonly exceed 30%, and often 50%, of their incomes. This makes renters unable to save, and places them in precarious financial situations that can be toppled by a single income disruption (such as lost job or even reduction in hours) or unanticipated expense (such as a medial bill or car repair). But recovering from a lost job or other financial setback is more difficult than ever in today’s rental market, as any history of housing-related financial problems—or even poor overall credit—tends to greatly restrict one’s access to rental housing and can consign families to lower-quality housing alternatives in areas of reduced opportunity. Rental application fees further steer households with admission barriers to less desirable properties thought to have less selective admissions criteria. In this way, a history of financial difficulty tends to reproduce disadvantage inequality. The fellow will help NHLP develop and implement legal strategies for attacking rental market policies that sustain and contribute to cyclical poverty by denying housing based on an applicant’s past financial hardships, rather than their current ability to pay.


Improving Access for Persons of Limited English Proficiency: Federally-funded agencies and programs have a duty under Title VI of the Civil Right Act and various implementing regulations to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access by persons of limited English proficiency (LEP). This includes subsidized housing providers (who receive funding through HUD or other federal agencies), and often includes many other state and local entities that operate programs critical to neighborhood wellness: schools, police departments, transit systems, homeless shelters, and more. Compliance with language access requirements is hit-or-miss, however, and enforcement strategies are challenging due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275 (2001) (holding that Title VI does not allow private disparate impact claims). Despite these challenges, the fellow will help NHLP develop and implement legal strategies for attacking discrimination against LEP individuals and enforcing language access requirements in housing and housing-related programs and services.


Expanding Opportunities for People with Criminal History: Diminished access to decent and affordable housing for the formerly incarcerated has been identified as the greatest determinant of successful re-entry in numerous studies. An increasing number of men and women are being released from prison, and securing stable housing exponentially is essential to improve their chances of successful reentry. Despite this evidence, people with criminal records are routinely barred from both private and subsidized housing in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Lawmakers are beginning to take notice of the importance of reentry and family reunification resources, but many housing admission decisions are still left to the discretion of housing owners or managers. The fellow will join NHLP and national allies to engage in litigation, policy advocacy, and training to improve housing opportunities for people who have come in contact with the criminal justice system.


Healthy Homes Initiative: Despite historically high rents throughout the country and a lack of affordable housing, federal funding for housing assistance is so low that only 1 in 4 families who qualify for federal assistance receive it. As a result, housing instability and homelessness have become the public health crises of our lifetime. Research shows that as families face eviction and displacement, physical and mental health deteriorates and hospital visits increase, among other negative health impacts. Housing instability and related family instability is a major contributor to the $3 trillion spent on healthcare in the United States. The fellow will collaborate with government agencies, including HUD and the USDA, and public health and housing advocates to examine the link between housing and health. The fellow will devise best practices and policy solutions to support safe, stable, and healthy homes including affordable housing preservation, protection from environmental hazards, and access to civil justice.


Protecting Housing Rights of LGBT Individuals and Families. Despite the progress made regarding rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons, discrimination in housing against LGBT individuals and families persists. Discrimination against LGBT persons in housing-related transactions can violate fair housing laws. During the Obama Administration, HUD issued regulations that require access to its programs regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. However, the future of these regulations is uncertain. For this project, the fellow will provide training and technical assistance to advocates nationwide on protecting LGBT housing rights in both federally subsidized and private housing in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Additionally, part of this fellowship project will involve extensive research of LGBT housing protections at the state level, and compiling findings into a format accessible to housing advocates. Furthermore, the fellow will engage in litigation and coalition-building with national LGBT and other civil rights organizations, and advocate for LGBT housing protections at the federal, state, and local levels, as appropriate.


 Expanding Tenants Rights in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program: The LIHTC program is one of the nation’s largest affordable housing programs, supporting over two million units. However, because it is administered by the Treasury Department and more than 50 state and local allocating agencies, applicants and tenants have few rights to fair treatment, despite the fact that the public subsidy covers a substantial portion of a unit’s capital cost. Building upon mostly successful efforts in the last decade to establish and implement a good cause eviction requirement in this program, the fellow will develop a tenant rights policy agenda in collaboration with advocates nationwide, seeking to establish critical rights in key jurisdictions through rulemaking and the LIHTC Qualified Allocation Plan process. The fellow’s work will also include training for advocates and litigation support in cases challenging unfair treatment.


Protecting Housing for Domestic Violence Survivors: The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) expanded housing protections for survivors of domestic and sexual violence by covering additional federal housing programs, including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program (LIHTC), and requiring that covered housing providers provide emergency transfers for survivors who must leave their units because of the abuse. Despite these mandates, the federal and state agencies responsible for administering LIHTC, as well as housing providers, have not implemented VAWA’s new requirements. Additionally, many public housing authorities and federally subsidized housing providers have not developed and used VAWA emergency transfer plans. Failures to implement these critical protections threaten the housing security of survivors and place their lives at risk. The fellow will develop legal strategies and policies ensuring that VAWA is implemented in the tax credit program and that federal housing providers are developing and using emergency transfer plans for survivors in urban, suburban, and rural communities.


Preserving Affordable Housing: As a result of federal budget and policy decisions, communities across the country face an increasingly acute housing crisis worsened by significant losses of affordable housing units or subsidies. Current proposals by the Administration and some in Congress to cut federal support for affordable housing will only exacerbate this crisis. Affordable housing units under a wide variety of programs are threatened, including public housing, project-based Section 8, HUD and Rural Development subsidized mortgages, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, and Housing Choice Voucher programs. Although Congress, HUD, and USDA have undertaken many preservation initiatives, such as the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), the crisis continues and implementation requires careful monitoring to ensure that affordable housing and tenant rights are protected. The fellow will join NHLP staff and allies nationwide to engage in policy advocacy, training, and litigation to preserve affordable housing for very low-income families.


NHLP provides its fellows with a full range of employer paid benefits including health, life, disability, etc as well as generous vacation and sick leave benefits.

Professional Level

Entry level

Minimum Education Required


How To Apply

To apply, please email a cover letter, resume, writing sample, unofficial transcript, and three references to Karlo Ng at Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and early applications are encouraged. For students who wish to begin their fellowship in fall 2019, applications are due to NHLP by Wednesday, July 18, 2018.