Tristia went to law school to fight against the systems that create poverty and inequity. She has spent her 16-year legal career working for the liberation and dignity of all people, with a focus on ending the criminalization of homelessness. She began her legal career in the courts and jails as a public defender in Miami, and she is currently a senior attorney at the National Homelessness Law Center. In January 2023, she will begin work as a directing attorney of the housing unit at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.
1. How did you meet Paul and get acquainted with WRAP?
Paul’s reputation precedes him, so it’s hard to remember when I actually “met” him. But, I truly got acquainted with him in Denver while lobbying for the Right to Rest Act. It was the start of a beautiful friendship!
2. What in your opinion is the role/expertise WRAP plays in this moment after 40 years of modern-day houselessness and growing criminalization – but also the growing movement of radical organizations and people’s movements fighting for the world we want?
Paul is singularly responsible from breaking me out of my legal dweeb mindset and teaching me what houseless advocacy is all about. Through hours of conversation with him, connecting with WRAP members, and collaborating on everything from lobbying to legal research to defense clinics, I have come to understand what a people’s movement truly is. Paul is my go-to for the history of the houseless movement and advocacy strategy. He is an inspiration to me, and – despite how much he hates when I say it – he is my mentor.
3. Paul has also been doing this for 40 years – Want to send a love message to Paul – about his impact on your work – and/or about his impact overall?
Paul, I love and respect you. You teach me, inspire me, and you have made me a better and more effective warrior for the power of the people. You have helped to shape my perspective and approach to this work, and you’ve taught me to always keep it real and enjoy the ride. If we’re gonna get our asses kicked, then we might as well have some fun doing this shit! I am honored to be your colleague, and even more so to be your friend. You’re never getting rid of me, Paul! I’m on WRAP’s team for life.