Homeless Court Program – And Justice for All

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San Diego Homeless Court Program on NBC Nightly News, March 15, 2006

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Homeless Court Program – Bringing the Court to the Streets

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Testimonials of Support for the Homeless Court Program

Michael Greco, Former ABA President
As President of the American Bar Association, I have opportunities to highlight many fine programs – the Homeless Court Program, supported by the ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, is one of the most timely and important projects of our association. I also want to thank all of the judges, lawyers, court employees, and advocates for the homeless who are working tirelessly to make the justice system more accessible for homeless people. In short, legal problems can prolong and exacerbate homelessness. The Commission is a leader in fostering replication of this innovative program that expands access to justice, reduces court costs, and helps homeless people move towards self-sufficiency.

Chief Justice of California Ronald George (Retired)
The San Diego Homeless Court Program Service Provider Toolkit compiles innovative approaches developed by judges, court staff, attorneys, and community and criminal justice partners to serve homeless men and women in the criminal justice system while addressing issues of public safety. It applies evidence-based practices tested during the development of San Diego’s model Homeless Court Program (HCP). The toolkit emphasizes common themes among homeless courts, including the importance of collaboration among courts, criminal justice partners, and homeless services providers in assisting clients as they prepare for court and for reentry into the community.

The San Diego Homeless Court Program Service Provider Toolkit is a valuable resource for our courts, for local bar associations, and for community and justice partners seeking to address problems in new ways in order to build a more inclusive criminal justice system and stronger, safer communities.

Chief Justice Of California, Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye
The courts have been called to the front lines of this economic crisis. Now more than ever the judicial branch serves as the safety net for democratic and civil society. Now more than ever we need problem solving and collaborative courts. And yet, we have fewer fiscal resources to us to support and expand these programs. There is even more distressing irony at work: the economic stress responsible for the budget cuts are also responsible for an increase in those populations most in need of the protection and services of the courts . . . .

What impact will budget cuts and realignment efforts and foreclosures will have on the number of homeless? What is the role of the courts in addressing homelessness and related public safety matters? How can courts and communities respond effectively to homelessness in an age of diminished resources? The critical timing of this summit and the work you will do today cannot be overstated. We are at a critical juncture not only for our courts, but for the future of our state.

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  • Thomas Wynn Sr. Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement from National Coalition for Homeless Veterans 2013
  • Successful Innovation 2013 – Wildcard Nominee, from HiiL Innovating Justice Awards 2013
  • San Diego Military Advisory Council Achievement Award, 2012
  • Pat Radburn Award to Homeless Court Providers and DLA Piper LLP, May 2011
  • “Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Service to Homeless Veterans,” Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, November 2009
  • “The Humanitarian Award,” The Chapel of Four Chaplains, November 2008
  • “Public Citizen of the Year,” National Association of Social Workers-California Region, 2007
  • “Meritorious Service Award,” National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, May 2007
  • Finalist, 2004 Innovations in Government Awards, Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation/Kennedy School of Government – Harvard University
  • Community Service Award, San Diego County Bar Association, 2004
  • 2003 Presidents Pro Bono Service Award (Government)/State Bar of California
  • NACo Award, presented to the County of San Diego for the Homeless Court Program, 2002
  • “Stan Conant Award,” The Board of Directors of Federal Defenders and Appellate Defenders, 2002
  • “Hodson Award,” presented to the Office of the Public Defender for the Homeless Court, Am. Bar Assn. Gov’t and Public Sector Lawyers Div., 2001
  • “Unsung Hero Award,” National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, March 2000
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County Helps Homeless Veterans Find Resolutions

County News Center, July 7, 2013

“Binder said San Diego is leading the country by example as far as helping homeless veterans. The American Bar Association Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, and the National Coalitions for Homeless Veterans sponsored training at the weekend event for key people from Maine, Washington D.C., Louisiana and Arizona to learn more about the Homeless Court Program and take it back to their communities.”

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Homeless Court Flips Judgement Day into a Graduation Day

Voice of San Diego, Kelly Bennett, February 14, 2013

Homeless Court Flips Judgment Day into a Graduation Day

“Homeless court turns regular court on its head. Outside of the trappings of a formal courtroom, the judge, prosecutors and defense breeze through dozens of cases in part of an afternoon. The process also acknowledges an offenders’ progress, instead of simply dwelling on transgressions.

‘I like to see us making a difference instead of locking people up,’ said Bruce-Lyle, the judge.”

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Veterans group honors Homeless Court Program

U-T San Diego, Dana Littlefield, December 14, 2012 

“SDMAC is a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes the military and defense industry community in San Diego. It recognized Homeless Court and other organizations at its annual achievement awards breakfast last week.”

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Homeless Court: San Diego’s Homeless Citizens Take Their Troubles to Court

San Diego Lawyer Magazine, Elisabeth Donovan, May/June 2012 


” ‘As a prosecutor I owe a duty to these people because they are citizens, and although they are sometimes treated as if they’re outside society, they are members of the community.’ Deputy District Attorney Richard McCue.”

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Searching Out Solutions; Constructive Alternatives to the Criminalization of Homelessness

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (pages 31-32), March 2012 

Participants voluntarily sign up for the HCP through a participating homeless service provider and participate in a series of program activities before appearing in court. Participants get credit for ‘time served’ in program activities that address the underlying causes of their homelessness, like life-skills, chemical dependency or AA/NA meetings, computer and literacy classes, training or searching for employment, healthcare (physical and mental), and counseling.

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