Skip to main content

Fair Chance Housing

Speaker(s): Byron Kline, Chloe Noonan, Deborah Thrope, Kiana Calloway, Sonja Tonnesen-Casalegno
Recorded on: Aug. 5, 2019
PLI Program #: 276633

Deborah Thrope is the Deputy Director of the National Housing Law Project (NHLP). Deborah’s work focuses on federal, state, and local policy advocacy to preserve affordable housing and tenants’ rights. She provides training and technical assistance to advocates working with low-income tenants and serves as an advisor and editor of NHLP’s seminal publication, HUD Housing Programs: Tenants Rights. Deborah has testified before Congress about increasing economic mobility in the Housing Choice Voucher program and improving living conditions for public housing residents. Before she joined NHLP, Deborah was a Senior Attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and represented clients with disabilities facing eviction and civil commitment.

Before working at VOTE, Kiana was a core member for two years, working on campaigns such as changing the inhuman conditions in the city jail and restoring voting rights to people on probation and parole throughout Louisiana. Now, Kiana is VOTE's Housing Justice Campaign Organizer, working on the local, state and federal levels. He is one of the 12 fellows in the Movement for Black Lives’ Electoral Justice League. 

Kiana believes that no matter the hardships of life, everyone deserves a fair chance at their pursuit of happiness. "Every day I work to ensure people returning home from incarceration get on a quick track to employment and resources that will help them successfully re-adapt to their role as productive citizens," he says.

Byron is a senior program associate with Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections in the Opening Doors project, a national initiative to expand access to public housing for people reentering their communities with conviction histories. Since joining Vera in 2015, he has also worked on the Safe Alternatives to Segregation initiative to reduce the use of restrictive housing in state correctional agencies, and in the Center on Youth Justice on juvenile justice reform projects with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice and the Juvenile Court in Cherokee County, Georgia.

Prior to working at Vera, Byron served as co-director of reentry for New York State’s Division of Criminal Justice Services. Byron was also the national program director for The Corps Network’s Civic Justice Corps as well as the Corps’ Postsecondary Success Education Initiative. Byron holds a JD from Rutgers School of Law—Newark and a BS in criminal justice from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Chloe is the Associate Director of Legal Education at Root & Rebound. She received her J.D. in 2016 from Boston University School of Law, where she was a Public Interest Scholar.

Before joining Root & Rebound, Chloe provided technical assistance to communities in California seeking to establish more permanent housing and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness. Chloe also worked as a legal fellow in Chicago, where she defended low-income tenants in eviction cases and advocated for the preservation of affordable housing. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois.
Chloe received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. Between college and law school, Chloe was a paralegal at LegalHealth, a medical-legal partnership of New York Legal Assistance Group.

In her free time, Chloe volunteers in a community garden and is an enthusiastic beekeeper with San Francisco Bee Cause. She also co-chairs the Queens’ Bench SF Juvenile Hall Project, through which groups of volunteers from the legal profession visit incarcerated children.

Sonja is Deputy Director of Programs and a founding staff member of Root & Rebound, a nonprofit reentry legal advocacy center whose mission is to restore power and resources to the families and communities most harmed by mass incarceration through legal advocacy, public education, policy reform and litigation — a model rooted in the needs and expertise of people who are directly impacted. Since its founding 7 years ago, the organization has reached more than 80,000 people through its California programs and services, and is working to expand its model nationally. Prior to Root & Rebound, Sonja received her J.D. from Berkeley Law School, where she advocated for survivors of domestic violence, criminal justice reform, and youth justice. During law school, she participated in Queer Caucus, the Women's Association, student government, and served an editor for two law journals, California Law Review and Berkeley Journal of General, Law & Justice. Sonja received her B.A. in Urban Studies and African Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and worked for an urban nutrition nonprofit in Philadelphia.