Skip to main content

Fair Chance Housing

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

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 National Legal Education & Resource Coordinator 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 worked as a Staff Lawyer at HomeBase. In this role, she 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 at Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing 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.

While attending law school, Chloe was an Article Editor with the Public Interest Law Journal and served as the Community Service Chair of the Public Interest Project. During her second year, she participated in the American Legislative Practice Clinic and externed in the Office of Massachusetts State Senator William N. Brownsberger. She also contributed to several access to justice initiatives while interning with the Language Access Coalition, volunteering at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse Court Service Center and externing at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. In addition, Chloe co-organized the creation and launch of an Environmental Justice Practicum at her law school, through which law students conduct research focused on the intersection of environmental conservation and civil rights.

Chloe received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. As an undergraduate, she pursued her interest in social justice work through legal and social science courses and studied abroad at the University of Oxford. Between college and law school, Chloe worked as 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 enjoys baking, reading and traveling.

Deborah Thrope is a Supervising Attorney at the National Housing Law Project (NHLP). Deborah’s work focuses on policy advocacy to preserve federally-assisted housing and tenants’ rights in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing programs. Deborah also collaborates with local, state, and national leaders to develop strategies that address the housing needs of people directly impacted by the criminal justice system. She recently updated "An Affordable Home on Reentry," NHLP’s signature field manual on barriers to affordable housing faced by people with criminal records and served as an Advisor and Editor of NHLP’s seminal publication, HUD Housing Programs: Tenants Rights. Before she joined NHLP, Deborah was a legal services attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and represented clients with disabilities facing eviction and civil commitment.

Sonja is the Deputy Director and a founding staff member of Root & Rebound, a nonprofit reentry legal advocacy center that addresses racial, economic, and social inequities in the criminal justice system and reentry process by restoring and protecting rights, dignity, and opportunities for system-involved individuals. Since its founding 6 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, the California Law Review and the Berkeley Journal of General, Law & Justice. In 2013, she published “‘Hit It and Quit It’: Responses to Black Girls’ Victimization in School,” a note exploring connections between the school-to-prison-pipeline, and race, gender, and implicit bias. Prior to law school, 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.