Community Legal Services (CLS)

Providing low income Philadelphia residents with advice and representation in civil legal matters, advocating for their legal rights, and conducting community education.

Philadelphia Bar Foundation Grant Impact

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s support allows CLS to do powerful systemic advocacy work that otherwise goes unfunded, in addition to its daily representation of clients with urgent legal issues. The Bar Foundation’s grant is critical in giving CLS the flexibility to do crucial work for low-income Philadelphians when it needs to be done, without waiting for other funding sources to come through. Due to the Bar Foundation’s support, CLS can quickly and effectively react to emerging issues, making CLS uniquely adaptive in its work to address the changing needs of Philadelphia's low-income constituency.

Summary List of Programs and Services

Direct legal services, administrative/legislative advocacy, class action litigation, and community education in the following:

Housing: Handles landlord/tenant and public housing issues and assists homeowners facing difficulties with their mortgages. Community Legal Services (CLS) advocates on behalf of tenants and homeowners in administrative and legislative forums.

Public Benefits: Including welfare, social security, food stamps, medical assistance and Medicare issues. CLS advocates on behalf of clients. CLS has recently been involved with the recent changes in federal and state welfare law, the SSI program and the shift of Medical Assistance to managed care.

Consumer and Homeownership Rights: Represents individuals who face foreclosure on their homes, have been victims of fraudulent practices, are facing sheriff’s sale or other adverse action due to property tax issues, encounter banking or check cashing agency problems or face other consumer law violations. CLS also engages in broad systemic and legislative advocacy in the areas of consumer law, mortgage foreclosure and property tax law.

Employment: Handles employment discrimination cases, criminal records as a barrier to employment cases, fair wage cases, unemployment compensation issues, and a variety of issues that come up for low-income workers. CLS advocates on behalf of clients who face many legal issues raised by the institution of workfare requirements.

Energy: Represents clients having trouble making utilities payments and facing termination of utilities. Serves as the public advocate before the Philadelphia Gas Commission, protecting the interests of consumers in rate setting and other proceedings.

Aging and Disabilities: Provides assistance to elderly Philadelphians in and out of institutional settings on a variety of issues, including access to long term care in the community setting, medical assistance and Medicare problems. CLS also engages in broad impact work around long term care and nursing home quality of care.

Family Advocacy: Represents parents of children faced with allegations of child neglect or abuse, providing them with constitutionally required representation as they seek to maintain family unity and access support services.

SSI: Provides direct representation to SSI claimants, adults and children, in administrative hearings for obtaining or maintaining benefits. CLS also advocates for the integrity and sustainability of the Social Security/SSI program as a whole by engaging with stakeholders in furtherance of state and national systemic change.

Summary List of Priorities for Client Intake

Housing, foreclosure, property taxes, government benefits, consumer rights, employment, utilities, elderly, dependency and neglect, health, and other non-criminal legal issues.