Community & Economic Development Clinic

The Clinic focuses on issues of community and economic development in low- and moderate-income populations, emphasizing non-adversarial, transactional approaches to advocacy. 

Image of CED students explaining settlement to clients
CED Clinic students Caroline Shurig ’15 (at left) and Traci Choi ’15 at a meeting of mobile-home park residents, explaining a monetary settlement they obtained on behalf of the residents that would provide the financial means for residents to relocate from the park, which was closing.

The Community and Economic Development (CED) Clinic works on issues related to homelessness, small business and nonprofit development, and policy initiatives designed to improve our client communities. It's primary concern is to solve clients’ problems by the most effective means available. As such, the clinic also represents clients in litigation matters.

The Clinic has represented a nonprofit corporation that operates a community garden in Ontario, a group of medical students who have formed a nonprofit to create and operate the first needle-exchange program in Orange County, and a group of small business owners seeking to preserve the identity of downtown Santa Ana. The Clinic has also represented a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of Mexican American culture in the Santa Ana community in its purchase and management of a building.

Many of our clients reside in mobile home parks, and much of our work revolves around the myriad problems of park residents. The clinic is counsel for farmworkers living in a substandard park in the Coachella Valley, low-income residents concerned about park management practices in San Bernardino, and residents seeking to purchase and operate a park in San Juan Capistrano. Through this work, we have become one of the primary resources in Southern California for pro bono legal services to mobile home park residents. Students and faculty travel to these sites to meet with clients, testify at public hearings and appear in court.

Our clients were mostly homeless clients seeking general relief from the social services agency, and they were wrongfully denied general relief which they desperately needed. We represented them before the social services agency to get them the money that they deserved. The little amount of work that I did gave them a voice, and they were so happy just to have someone voice their concerns.
Theodore Nguyen ’14, Deputy General Counsel, LIBERTY Dental Plan; Irvine, CA

Recent Work

The CED represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, with a particular focus on creating affordable housing and promoting economic development in low-income communities throughout California. 

A highlight of CED work as of 2024 has been assisting approximately fifty farmworker families who live in a mobile home park near Fresno in their efforts to purchase their park. The purchase will stabilize rents, enable needed infrastructure repairs, and allow for cooperative ownership. In partnership with California Rural Legal Assistance and the California Center for Cooperative Development, CED has provided comprehensive legal representation to make the purchase possible. Over the past year, CED students set up a nonprofit limited equity corporation to purchase the park, negotiated the terms of the purchase, and worked with lenders to secure financing. Park residents will govern the nonprofit entity that acquires the park and much of the clinic’s work in the fall involved students working with residents to ensure that the new ownership structure reflects the community’s values. The purchase closed in February 2024. 

In other work, CED students continue to provide a range of transactional legal services to local nonprofits and small businesses. Examples of this work include the representation of a community land trust in Santa Ana as it finalizes a community garden project with space for farming and community events; an urban farm collective that promotes locally supported agriculture; several low-income entrepreneurs navigating regulatory requirements involved in starting food businesses; and a nonprofit that promotes economic and community development in downtown Santa Ana.

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