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Pathways to Justice 2012: Special Housing Updates


Speaker(s): Catherine M. Bishop, Chancela Al-Mansour, Deborah A. Collins, Navneet Grewal, S. Lynn Martinez, Stephanie Haffner, W. Jay Smith
Recorded on: Jun. 8, 2012
PLI Program #: 40212

Deborah Collins is the managing attorney of The Public Interest Law Project ("PILP") in Oakland. She has been with PILP since 2002.  Prior to that, Deborah was an attorney with Legal Services of Northern California for ten years. PILP is a non-profit, state-wide support center for local Legal Services and IOLTA programs, providing technical assistance and advice, training, administrative and legislative advocacy, and co-counseling services on poverty law issues. Ms. Collins specializes in state and federal laws related to the development and preservation of housing that is affordable to the lower income community including state land use, planning and redevelopment, subsidized housing, relocation assistance, and fair housing laws.


Jay Smith joined HUD as a Community Builder Fellow in September 1998. He has been the HUD Region IX Relocation Specialist since 2000.  Prior to joining HUD, Jay was the Senior Economic Development Specialist for the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Community Development, where he managed several community-based economic development programs. In his current role as HUD's Regional Relocation Specialist, Jay provides technical assistance and training on the Uniform Relocation Act and Section 104(d) of the Housing and Community Development Regulations of 1988 primarily to HUD funding recipients. He also monitors HUD grantees for URA and Section 104(d) compliance. In addition, Jay responds to requests for assistance from tenants, business owners and nonprofit organizations displaced by HUD-funded projects. 


Chancela Al-Mansour has been the Executive Director of one of the largest fair housing advocacy agencies in the country, the Housing Rights Center, since 2010. At the Housing Rights Center, she oversees the agency's 65 cases, on average, filed annually in federal court or referred to the state or federal administrative agencies and the agency's numerous contracts with federal, state and local governments to do their federally required fair housing compliance. Chancela worked at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County for 16 years as a staff attorney and Directing Attorney of the housing and consumer law unit and at the Western Center on Law and Poverty on a two year fellowship that focused on fair housing advocacy.

Chancela serves on the board of the Community Reinvestment Coalition and is an active member of the National Fair Housing Alliance and Black Women Lawyers of Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Vassar College and U.C. Davis School of Law.


Catherine Bishop has been a member of the NHLP staff for over 32 years, and is a recognized expert in the field of federal housing law. She has built long-standing relationships with housing, legal and policy advocates nationwide. Her work has been instrumental in increasing housing authorities' responsiveness and effective service to special needs populations including people with disabilities, the re-entry population, and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Catherine led NHLP's 2009-2010 Resident Engagement Initiative, which culminated in landmark face-to-face policy dialogues between HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and a pool of 100 residents from HUD's major housing programs to discuss plans for the preservation and improvement of public housing, which became the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. She also lead an offshoot of that successful effort under NHLP's Resident Training Academy; a national webinar training school intended to empower federally assisted residents to assume leadership roles and to participate in local and federal policy opportunities.  Catherine also leads NHLP's work in advancing HUD's Section 3 jobs training program and Public Housing and Vouchers Initiatives.


Lynn Martinez is Managing Attorney and Senior Litigator at Western Center on Law and Poverty where she specializes in multi-client impact ligation involving land use, landlord/tenant and fair housing issues.  Lynn supervises WCLP’s Foreclosure Task Force and provides legislative support, technical assistance and training on the state and national level.  She has published a number of articles and is co-editor of WCLP’s Housing Update and the Housing Practice Tip.  Prior to joining WCLP, Lynn was a staff attorney at the National Housing Law Project where she specialized in homeownership issues and Legal Services of Northern California.  Lynn has served as a visiting professor at UC Davis School of Law and core faculty for the Benchmark Institute.  She also completed eight years of service as a judge pro tem in Solano County, hearing cause for issuance of domestic violence Emergency Protective Orders during the hours when the local courts are closed.  Lynn was part of the inaugural class of HUD Community Builders, representing the San Francisco office from 1998-2000.  Prior to becoming an attorney, Lynn was an escrow and title officer for a Northern California title company.


Stephanie Haffner, a graduate of UC Berkeley Law School, began her legal career at California Rural Legal Assistance where she chaired its statewide public benefits task force and served as lead counsel in Price v. City of Stockton, which secured replacement housing and relocation benefits for hundreds of Stockton downtown hotel residents.  Stephanie taught Administrative Law and other subjects at Whittier Law School.  From 2006 to 2011, Stephanie supervised the Housing/Consumer Advocacy Group of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County.  She joined Western Center in 2011 as a Senior Litigator, and became a Director of Litigation for Western Center in 2017.  Her practice includes administrative law, anti-discrimination law, food and cash benefits, and homelessness issues, among others. As of April 30, 2018, she will be joining Legal Aid of Marin as their Executive Director.


Navneet Grewal is a Senior Attorney at Western Center on Law and Poverty, a statewide legal services support center that fights, through litigation and legislative and policy advocacy, to secure housing, health care and a strong safety net for low-income Californians. She has successfully litigated cases in state and federal court that have, for example, expanded due process rights for voucher applicants, reimbursed thousands of public housing residents for rent overcharges, enforced state land use and zoning laws (resulting in the development of affordable housing), and that have preserved mobilehome parks. She also works with the housing team to develop and analyze statewide housing legislation that has led to significant protections for low-income Californians. Critically, she also works to support local legal services attorneys in identifying and assessing critical legal claims that their clients might avail themselves of, both through technical assistance and workshops. Navneet has also written several housing law-related publications; most recently, she was a contributing author to the Section 8 chapter of the 2017 California Rutter Group Practice Guide - Landlord-Tenant. She also previously served on the Steering Committee of the State Bar’s Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Section and on the Board of Directors of Housing California. In all facets of this work, Navneet strives to ensure that housing policies and practices work toward racial justice. Navneet is a graduate of the New York University School of Law, where she received the Vanderbilt Medal (the highest graduation honor), and the Black, Latino, and Asian Pacific American Alumni Association’s Public Service Award.