Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP)

Providing free civil legal services and advocacy to reduce the frequency and duration of homelessness in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Bar Foundation Grant Impact

The Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) was created through efforts by the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the former Philadelphia Bar Association Problems of the Homeless Committee in 1990 with HAP's first Annual April Benefit. The organization was started by caring, concerned young lawyers who organized HAP under the guidance of wise bar leaders. HAP has continued to grow and thrive with the enthusiastic support of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, and expresses gratitude for the Philadelphia Bar Foundation's leadership, and its continuing reminders to the legal community at large of the importance of HAP's work.

Summary List of Programs and Services

For many homeless individuals, and those at risk of homelessness, the resolution of legal problems is often crucial to the establishment – or re-establishment – of stable and independent social functioning.

Legal Clinics: HAP holds legal clinics approximately once a month at 25 homeless shelters, transitional housing sites, overnight cafes and soup kitchens. Each clinic lasts from one to one and one-half hours. Each legal clinic is staffed by a HAP staff attorney and pro bono legal volunteers. A client seeking assistance at a legal clinic meets privately with a HAP volunteer to discuss his or her legal problems. Under HAP’s supervision, the volunteer follows through on the case until the matter is resolved and connects the client to any social services he or she may need. In addition to HAP’s regularly scheduled legal clinics, HAP also conducts special clinics to help homeless individuals to obtain birth certificates - essential documentation for homeless adults to obtain photo ID and to apply for housing and activate public benefits.

HAP hosts the following projects:

Children and Families Project (CFP): HAP’s CFP clinics address some of the most urgent legal needs of homeless children and their families, including access to federal disability funds, special education services, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, obtaining identification documentation and family law issues.

Veterans Project: While providing representation on a wide array of legal areas for Philadelphia’s homeless veterans, most significant is HAP’s representation of injured veterans on their claims for VA benefits – an arduous and challenging administrative process. Today, HAP, holds legal clinics at several different veteran sites in Philadelphia.

SOAR Project: HAP’s celebrated SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach Access and Recovery) project provides rapid SSI/ for disabled homeless adults. HAP’s SOAR project is so successful that it is referenced as the model for SOAR in the country. In addition to its work with homeless adults residing in Philadelphia shelters, HAP also uses SOAR to help youth aging out of DHS care and mentally ill prisoners being released under the auspices of Mental Health Court.

List of Priorities for Client Intake

Legal services for the homeless individuals and families and those at risk of homelessness with an emphasis on holistic care.

The Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) assists homeless clients with over 50 civil legal matters including: Benefits; Commercial/Credit; Education; Employment; Family Law; Health Care; Emergency Shelter/Housing; Identity; and Trusts/Estates.

HAP also provides referrals to social services for homeless persons.