Community Development


Public Counsel’s Community Development Project (CDP) builds strong foundations for healthy, vibrant, economically stable communities, particularly in low-income communities of color in Los Angeles, by supporting neighborhood nonprofits and small businesses; supporting early care and education providers; strengthening the health care safety net; building foundations for financial independence; advancing affordable housing and tenant protections; and supporting community-led efforts to advance racial and economic justice.

CDP serves this mission with the services described below:

Nonprofits and Small Businesses

Transactional Legal Services and Capacity Building

Community based nonprofits provide key resources and support to improve the lives of individuals and stabilize underserved neighborhoods. Often times such nonprofits have limited resources, especially for legal services. The Community Development project provides free legal assistance to qualifying nonprofits ranging from technical assistance, such as reviewing and drafting contracts, to providing training on laws, regulations, and lobbying rules. After receiving these services, nonprofit clients have shared how CDP's pro bono assistance allowed them to not only feel secure in the legal matter at hand, but also gave them a sense of confidence to continue their mission. In addition to assisting already established nonprofits, CDP also helps start-up nonprofits that share our mission by helping them to incorporate, obtain tax exemption, and establish workable corporate structures and policies.

In order to help organizations remain sustainable and productive forces in the communities they serve, CDP offers seminars on legal and compliance issues, and publishes legal updates on changes in nonprofit law. CDP also provides in-depth training for board members on issues such as corporate governance and conflicts of interest, fiduciary responsibilities, self-evaluation and strategic planning, personnel policy and procedures and financial responsibilities.

Strengthening the Healthcare Safety Net

Community-based, not for profit primary care clinics in Los Angeles County are the backbone of a critical safety net of care for more than two million uninsured children and adults who reside in primarily low-income, minority and/or immigrant neighborhoods. CDP ’s clients include nonprofit healthcare providers serving low-income and uninsured individuals and families, such as federally qualified health centers, community clinics, and mental health service providers.

Financial Independence (Small Business & Entrepreneurs)

Financial independence is a crucial and fundamental component of economically stable communities. Small businesses in low income areas help revitalize the local economy by increasing commerce and creating jobs. CDP is committed to providing legal support to low income entrepreneurs who operate small businesses in communities that have been overlooked. By providing transactional legal services and training, these small businesses can continue thriving in their communities.

Early Care and Education

Research has shown that quality early care and education (ECE) during the first years of life is crucial in determining future success. The human brain develops the majority of its neurons and is most receptive to learning between birth and three years of age. Given the developmental importance of a child’s first years of life, the value of quality ECE cannot be overstated. ECE providers often face legal obstacles unique to their child care business and therefore have difficulty obtaining legal support. CDP fills this gap in service and allows ECE providers to continue providing quality ECE to children in their most formative years. By extending legal services and trainings to ECE providers, CDP increases access to quality ECE in low-income communities which allows children to thrive, parents to secure and maintain employment, and providers to achieve economic security.

Please visit the Early Care and Education page here. For further information regarding our services or to request legal assistance, please call us at (213) 385-2977, ext. 300.


Housing and Inclusive Development

Advancing Affordable Housing Production, Preservation and Tenant Protections

Safe, accessible, and affordable housing is critical to the economic and social wellbeing of vibrant communities. However, the shortage of such housing in Los Angeles significantly and disproportionately affects low income communities and communities of color. This shortage not only prevents families from meeting their basic needs, it also increases their risk of becoming displaced and/or homeless as affordable and rent-stabilized housing gets converted or lost.  To combat this crisis, the Community Development Project works to promote the development and preservation of affordable and supportive housing. In a typical year, CDP enables the construction of hundreds of affordable homes for families, seniors, veterans, and formerly homeless individuals. CDP also supports and collaborates with other nonprofits and social service providers in order to increase the number of affordable and supportive homes throughout the County of Los Angeles.

The Community Development Project’s attorneys directly represent nonprofit developers, tenant and community groups.  Through capacity building, policy, education, and litigation, we advocate for policies at the local and state level, and enforce state and local laws, that encourage development and preservation of affordable and supportive housing. Our attorneys have many years of experience in advancing land use, affordable housing laws (including housing element, redevelopment and state density bonus laws), and fair housing laws to combat discrimination against subsidized housing and achieve the development and preservation of affordable and supportive housing, and in educating and providing technical assistance to local jurisdictions to help them achieve these goals.

Additionally, CDP fights for the preservation of existing affordable and rent stabilized housing by monitoring housing at risk of losing its affordability, advocating for compliance with state and local tenant protection laws, and partnering with community advocates.  Our capacity building work for housing organizations includes transactional legal services for affordable and supportive housing developers, tenants’ rights advocates, and service providers on a range of transactional and land use matters.

Inclusive Development

The Community Development Project supports community led advocacy groups and community based organizations in their efforts to advance racial and economic justice and build power in low-income communities and communities of color. CDP supports these groups in their efforts to maintain a strong voice in the development of their communities by providing legal assistance, capacity building, and policy support. Campaigns we’ve assisted on include a campaign to legalize sidewalk vending in the City of Los Angeles, to establish renter protections in the County of Los Angeles and a campaign to ensure equitable development around transit in the City of Los Angeles. By supporting community based campaigns and community-led advocacy groups, the Community Development Project builds foundations for communities to attack the root causes of poverty while working toward a healthier, greener, and more inclusive Los Angeles.

CDP assists with campaigns related to the creation and preservation of affordable housing, protecting tenants, quality employment opportunities, inclusive entrepreneurship, childcare, access to open space, and ending the criminalization of poverty. For more information on our inclusive development and campaign work, please contact our intake line at extension 200.