Dan Oates came to Rutgers Law School with a background in social work and a commitment to help the homeless. Now that he’s graduated, he’s continuing that work at Homebase, a non-profit organization in San Francisco, where he is working as a fellow thanks to a post-graduate Maida Fellowship.
Oates, a New York native who interned at HUD while in law school, said he wants to work on policy issues so he can “be at the table when a locality is making a thorny decision about homelessness.” At Homebase, he said he works on two branches of initiatives. He supports programs as they navigate local, state, and federal opportunities. This work may include identifying programmatic gaps in the homeless system of care, analyzing data, or researching and writing about best practices. He’s also working on a homeless prevention project that will benefit all localities including New Jersey.
“To me, a house is the foundation upon which we build our lives,” he said. “It is the base for our personal and public success. We can improve the likelihood of this success, at a minimum, by ensuring access to safe, clean, and dignified shelter. At a maximum, we can and should do more.”
Oates said Homebase works on homelessness issues for communities pursuing, planning, and implementing just homeless initiatives. He said his classes in law school taught him to navigate issues facing the homeless from a “policy perspective.” Those classes included, Administrative Law, Civil Rights, Law & Economics, Low-Income Housing, and Metropolitan Equity. He wrote some of his law school papers on homelessness issues – including whether New York City may and should use eminent domain to create homeless shelters.
According to Jill Friedman, associate dean for pro bono and public interest, alumnus James Maida and his wife Sharon established the Maida Public Interest Fellowships Program in 2015 to acknowledge and support public interest work by Rutgers Law School students and graduates from both Law campuses. It funds approximately 40 summer public interest stipends each year, and one post-graduate fellowship for an exceptional recent graduate seeking to start a career in public service.
While in law school, Oates was a Social Justice Scholar and a member of the Constitutional Rights Clinic under the guidance of Professor Alexis Karteron. Additionally, he said he also was particularly influenced by Professor David Troutt’s course on Race, Class, and Metropolitan Equity and Professor Ho’s class on Administrative Law. Oates said one of the things he found special about attending Rutgers Law is that “the school, professors, and staff are committed to serving the public interest.”
He said he sees his work in serving individuals who experience homelessness as a “lifelong moral and civic duty.” He credits the Fellowship with giving him this opportunity, “The Maida Post-Graduate Fellowship provides me with an unparalleled opportunity to work alongside a nationally-recognized organization; this experience will benefit my ability to serve for the duration of my career.”