About Us

Founded in 1999 as the Housing Preservation Project, Housing Justice Center (HJC) is a nonprofit public interest advocacy and legal organization whose primary mission is to preserve and expand affordable housing for low-income individuals and families.

HJC attorneys work with tenant and advocacy organizations, public and private housing funders, owners, developers, and policy makers in their efforts to protect and expand affordable housing. Based in Minnesota, HJC works nationwide.

Our Staff

Margaret Kaplan, President

Margaret Kaplan started her work in affordable housing as a VISTA doing community organizing with residents of manufactured home parks. She has almost 20 years of experience in the field of affordable housing and community development in the nonprofit, academic, and government sectors.

Margaret graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2003 and began her legal career with the Housing Preservation Project. She subsequently worked for All Parks Alliance for Change and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota. After spending six years as the Community Development Director at Minnesota Housing, Margaret was a policy fellow with the North Star Policy Institute. Margaret brings a wealth of knowledge about local, state, and federal housing policy and programs as well as a robust background in the intersection of community organizing and the law.

Read more about Margaret in our leadership transition announcement.

Tim Thompson, Senior Staff Attorney

Timothy (Tim) Thompson is a 1975 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School.  He joined HJC in 2000 (known as “HPP” back then) and up until 2006 was also employed as the Litigation Director of Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance, Inc. Tim has worked for various legal services programs for more than 25 years, specializing in tenants’ rights, government housing programs and class actions. He has been lead counsel or co-counsel on over 30 cases in Federal Court brought on behalf of low income residents. These suits have helped to secure rights to public assistance and federally subsidized housing programs for those most in need of these services. Tim’s cases have had far reaching impact on the rights and opportunities of the poor and communities of color.

Jack Cann, Senior Staff Attorney

John (Jack) Cann graduated from Carleton College in 1964 and did three years of graduate work at Stanford University. In 1967, Jack began to work full time on a variety of housing related activities, many of them litigation oriented. This provided him with a unique breadth and depth of experience relevant to housing litigation, including tenants’ rights organizing, advocacy, lobbying, and real estate development and finance. He graduated magna cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law in 1986. Jack brings a great deal of knowledge and experience to the HJC staff. He has worked extensively with Section 236, Section 8, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and Community Development Block Grants. His knowledge of financing tools and compliance requirements gives HJC an advantage in both negotiations and litigation. He has also extensively litigated preservation cases on both the district and appellate level, both in Minnesota and across the country.

James Poradek, Housing Rights Attorney

Jim works with low-income tenants and community organizations to enforce their legal rights to fair, safe, and affordable housing. Before joining Housing Justice Center in January 2020, Jim worked for 19 years as lead trial counsel at one of the top law firms in the country, Faegre Baker Daniels, where he won dozens of complex, high-stakes cases frequently involving disputes over $100M.  Before that, Jim worked as a law clerk for a federal district court judge in Minnesota after graduating magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Minnesota Law Review. Jim has been consistently ranked as one of the top civil litigators in the country by Best Lawyers in America and IAM 1000 World’s Leading Litigation Professionals: “Jim Poradek is one of the most gifted oral advocates anywhere; . . . brilliant at taking complex technical subject matter and making it easy to understand and, above all, interesting.”

Jim’s work in housing justice law goes back to the 1990s, when he worked as a community organizer and affordable housing activist in Washington, DC., and did scholarly work on access to justice and affordable housing at the University of Minnesota Law School.  At Faegre, Jim developed the firm’s pro bono tenant rights enforcement practice and served as lead counsel in many successful tenant rights lawsuits, including a groundbreaking consumer fraud class action against predatory landlords that resulted in a class settlement that returned millions of dollars in rent to tenants. Jim received the 2018 Baker Benson Pro Bono Award for his tenant rights work and was recognized by the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court for “extraordinary efforts to help low-income tenants [that] sets a shining example for all in the legal profession.”

 Jim’s approach as a litigator is the same today with housing rights clients as it was with Fortune 500 clients when he worked at Faegre: he believes in rolling up his sleeves and working side-by-side with clients and colleagues to develop creative strategies that achieve high-impact wins for his clients.

Our Board

Richard Kahn (Board Chairperson), currently President of National Affordable Housing Advisors, is a former affordable housing developer, former board member of Jewish Community Action, and a founding member of the HJC Board of Directors.  He now works on acquisition and financing of existing affordable rental housing on behalf of non-profits.

David Anderson (Board Secretary) is Executive Director of All Parks Alliance for Change (APAC), a state-wide advocacy group for residents of Minnesota’s manufactured home parks.  APAC and HJC have worked closely together to develop strategies to keep parks open in recognition of their value as an affordable housing resource. 

Michael Bodaken is President of the National Housing Trust, the only national nonprofit organization engaged in housing preservation through a combination of real estate development, lending, and public policy endeavors.  Among other activities, Mr. Bodaken leads the National Preservation Working Group, a coalition of groups (including HJC) advocating for stronger preservation policies on the federal level. 

Warren Hanson is President of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (GMHF), an intermediary funding organization providing financial and technical assistance to promote affordable housing in Greater Minnesota communities.  Mr. Hanson is a founding board member of HJC and GMHF is one of HJC’s founding organizations. 

Howard Goldman is the former Minnesota State Director of the U.S. Humane Society, and served as the Multifamily Hub Director for HUD. His other experience includes: Vice Chair of Little Earth Board of Directors; Real estate Committee of Beacon Interfaith, and Temple of Aaron Housing subcommittee (social action committee). 

Eric Hauge is the Executive Director of HOME Line, an organization providing free legal, organizing, educational, and advocacy services so that tenants throughout Minnesota can solve their own rental housing problems.  

Linda Soderstrom is a fearless community advocate for affordable housing. She was a former tenant of the Crossroads apartments and currently lives in Saint Charles. 

Walter Battle is a shareholder of the Wilder Square Cooperative, an affordable housing community that was only saved though Mr. Battle’s leadership.  

Martha Hernandez-Martinez, MPA, serves as a Research/Program Manager and National Training and Technical Assistance Provider for Casa de Esperanza – National Latin Network.  

Maria Johnson is a community leader and a former renter at the Crossroads Apartments. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Funders & Supporters

HJC represents clients and supports the advocacy efforts of community based organizations free of charge. The mission-driven work of the Housing Justice Center is supported by generous contributions from our funder partners.

  • Greater Minnesota Housing Fund
  • LSAC
  • The Heading Home Funders Collaborative
  • The Minneapolis Foundation
  • The Saint Paul Foundation
  • Bigelow Foundation
  • Mardag Foundation

 

In Kind Support: HJC depends on student interns and volunteers to support our work. Through the Minnesota Justice Foundation, The Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and the University of St. Thomas law clinic we have had the privilege of working with the next generation of lawyers and researchers.  HJC also works with pro bono attorneys as co-counsel on our larger impact litigation efforts.