Professor Rankin is a national expert on legal and policy issues relating to people experiencing homelessness. She is the founder and Director of the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project (HRAP). at the Korematsu Center. Through HRAP, Professor Rankin oversees various projects to advance the civil, constitutional, and human rights of visibly poor people. HRAP also builds partnerships across a broad range of disciplines with community members, advocates, academic institutions, and other stakeholders. Each year, HRAP releases a series of new reports that continue the group's groundbreaking research into laws that unfairly target the visibly poor. HRAP's reports examine the impacts of increasingly popular laws and policies that criminalize homelessness, such as prohibitions on sitting, standing and sleeping in public; living in vehicles; sweeps of tent encampments; pet ownership standards; and barriers to access at emergency shelters. HRAP's research not only identifies problematic laws and policies, but also offers effective, legally sound alternatives. HRAP's award-winning work has been praised by legal aid organizations, services providers, non-profits, city officials, and street activist organizations for its impact.
Professor Rankin is also co-founder and co-chair of the Third Door Coalition, an unlikely alliance of Seattle researchers, service providers, and business leaders advancing permanent supportive housing (PSH) as the most humane and cost-effective solution to unsheltered chronic homelessness. She is a member of the Leadership Committee of the Lived Experience Coalition and serves their designee on the King County Regional Homelessness Authority's Implementation Board . She is an active participant in five other boards, including serving as co-president of the board for the new community street newspaper, Dignity City, as well serving on the advisory board for We Are In, the King County Public Defense Advisory Board and the National Homelessness Law Center Board.
Before teaching, Professor Rankin earned nearly a decade of experience in private practice at major law firms such as Kirkland & Ellis, LLP and Sidley Austin, LLP, where she specialized in complex litigation. She also gained an in-house perspective, serving as assistant general counsel for a national accounting firm.
Prior to her legal career, Professor Rankin received her M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Professor Rankin's teaching and scholarship interests include the social and political aspects of legal education reform, lawyering skills, legal and policy issues relating to people experiencing homelessness, and policy advocacy.
August 11, 2022 | OPB Think Out Loud
Professor Sara Rankin discusses the current legal framework for cities addressing homelessness.
May 19, 2022 | KREM
February 19, 2019 | Crosscut
Social services would be more effective and less costly than jail, says Professor Sara Rankin.
January 02, 2019 | Real Change News
Professor Sara Rankin is quoted in this editorial criticizing Seattle's strategy to combat homelessness.
November 28, 2018 | The Washington Post
Professor Sara Rankin says many religions focus on ministering to the poor.
November 20, 2018 | Bloomberg Businessweek
Professor Sara Rankin says inaction actually costs more than spending money to solve homelessness.
November 20, 2018 | Seattle Met
Professor Sara Rankin says the city has failed to create safe, effective policy for allowing vehicle residency.
November 19, 2018 | Puget Sound Business Journal
Professor Sara Rankin and business owner Chad Mackay write that Seattle's budget needs more funding for homelessness.
November 08, 2018 | The Seattle Times
Professor Sara Rankin says the city's budget shows a fear of dealing with homelessness.
October 11, 2018 | The Seattle Times
Professor Sara Rankin says permanent supportive housing is needed more than temporary shelter.
September 14, 2018 | ThinkProgress
City officials say the ruling doesn't affect Seattle, but Professor Sara Rankin begs to differ.
September 07, 2018 | The Seattle Times
Professor Sara Rankin analyzes whether an unconstitutional Boise law is relevant to Seattle.
September 05, 2018 | KUOW
Would a Boise ruling affect Seattle? Professor Sara Rankin offers her thoughts.
September 05, 2018 | Oregon Public Broadcasting
Cities can no longer pretend sweeps are effective, says Professor Sara Rankin.
September 04, 2018 | The Seattle Times
The appeals court ruling makes common sense, says Professor Sara Rankin.
August 31, 2018 | Crosscut
Professor Sara Rankin says there's a substantial cost to ignoring homelessness.
August 24, 2018 | Puget Sound Business Journal
Permanent supportive housing can help end homelessness, says a member of the civic alliance co-founded by Professor Sara Rankin.
August 23, 2018 | City Lab
Professor Sara Rankin says the city needs a coherent, effective plan for homelessness.
August 22, 2018 | The Seattle Times
Sweeps create the illusion that homelessness is dealt with when it isn't, says Professor Sara Rankin.
August 08, 2018 | The Seattle Times
The city's lack of shelter options forces residents to camp outdoors, says Professor Sara Rankin.
July 31, 2018 | CBS News
Professor Sara Rankin says the problem is national in scope, but felt most acutely in urban areas.
July 25, 2018 | CityMetric
Professor Sara Rankin says anti-vagrancy laws make homelessness worse.
July 24, 2018 | Governing
Professor Sara Rankin calls on cities to develop effective "safe parking" plans.
July 23, 2018 | Puget Sound Business Journal
Professor Sara Rankin and business executive Chad Mackay announce effort to tackle chronic homelessness.
July 19, 2018 | Seattle University School of Law News Center
July 19, 2018 | Crosscut
Professor Sara Rankin says people need educated, not emotional, responses to homelessness.
June 20, 2018 | The Conversation
Professor Sara Rankin co-authors an essay calling on cities to change laws on homelessness.