Philadelphia Bar Foundation Grant Impact
The Philadelphia Bar Foundation and the SeniorLAW Center (SLC) share the desire to make justice accessible for all members of the Philadelphia area. The Philadelphia Bar Foundation is one of the few foundations that gives general operating unrestricted grants, which allow SLC to direct the Bar Foundation’s grant to support emerging areas of need or unexpected increases and shifts in demand for legal assistance in different areas of law. The Bar Foundation’s support is also helpful as SLC seeks funding from other diverse sources, especially other foundations, which may look to the Bar Foundation’s support as a mark of confidence and excellence.
Summary List of Programs and Services
Homeowners Assistance Program:
Addressing the needs of low-income elderly homeowners in Philadelphia, enabling them to maintain their homes and remain in their communities, helping them to lead safe, independent lives and expand their long-term care options by providing legal services, education, and advocacy.
KinC.A.N. (Kinship Caregiver Assistance Network):
Provides representation and education for grandparents and other seniors acting as caregivers for, or seeking custody of minor relative children, many of whom have been abandoned, neglected or abused by birth parents.
MLP for LIFE:
In partnership with Mercy LIFE (Living Independently for Elders), this medical-legal partnership for LIFE program participants provides onsite legal advice, information and referrals and allows community intake for extended representation for nursing home eligible seniors aging in place at home by accessing medical, social, rehab and legal services through the LIFE program. See www.seniorlawcenter.org for more information.
Model Approaches to Strengthen Pennsylvania’s Senior Legal Services System:
In partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, as well as the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Allegheny, and Dauphin County Bar Associations, the statewide aging network and leaders, legal services, pro bono partners, law schools, law enforcement, the Courts and many other partners, SeniorLAW Center is leading a 3-year Model Approaches Phase II project to analyze and strengthen Pennsylvania’s legal services for seniors, with focus on elder justice and elder abuse.
Neighborhood Legal Clinics:
Held monthly at several community partner sites throughout the city, focused primarily on minority and veteran communities. See www.seniorlawcenter.org for details, dates and addresses.
Pension Rights Project:
Partnering with Mid-America Pension Rights Project to handle a variety of issues related to pension benefits, including eligibility and vesting, military pensions, union pensions, 401(k) plans, and survivor, divorce and common-law marriage pension benefits.
Pennsylvania SeniorLAW Helpline:
A free and confidential telephone service, staffed by attorneys, providing legal information, advice and referrals to seniors 60 years and older throughout Pennsylvania. The Helpline addresses a wide variety of legal issues, including elder abuse, consumer problems (credit, debt, bankruptcy), health care (including Medicare Part D), estate planning, government and private pensions, family law (including divorce, custody, support), housing, financial exploitation and many other areas of civil law.
Planning to Age with Dignity:
Provides life planning and advance decision-making document drafting for low-income seniors, including health care and financial POAs, living wills and simple wills.
Project S.A.F.E. (Stop Abuse and Financial Exploitation):
Combats various forms of elder abuse and financial exploitation of the elderly through direct services, training, community education, professional outreach and advocacy.
Protecting Older Veterans Who Once Protected Us:
Serving the wide-ranging needs of vulnerable Philadelphia veterans 60 and older, their widows/widowers and other senior family members who are victims of crime and elder abuse with a range of focused, collaborative victim services and resources, addressing their continuum of needs, including safety, health, shelter, and economic security.
Strengthening the Economic Security of Older Victims of Domestic Violence:
Provides comprehensive, expanded, holistic legal services to older survivors of domestic violence to ensure their safe housing and financial independence, free from financial manipulation by their abusers, including: legal actions to assist survivors in having their abusers removed from their homes; spousal support actions; legal assistance with housing issues (including fraudulent deed transfers and ejectments); legal assistance to prevent or address abuse by Social Security Representative Payee, Veterans Fiduciary and/or agent under Power of Attorney; providing information on and assistance with emergency and other financial assistance; connecting them to resources to address additional needs resulting from the victimization, including food, clothing and shelter, resources to change locks, install security bars and other immediate safety needs.
Advocacy through participation on task forces, councils, roundtables, coalitions and committees concerned with aging, access to justice, poverty, women’s rights, domestic violence, intergenerational families, equality and other key issues. Community and professional education workshops on legal issues affecting the elderly. Law student training for students who work at SeniorLAW Center to develop skills in client counseling and representation, negotiating, advocacy, research and legal writing and elder law issues. Many diverse pro bono programs, practice groups, Life Planning Clinics, and other pro bono opportunities.
Summary List of Priorities for Client Intake
For Extended Representation:
Housing: forward and reverse mortgage foreclosures; home repair contractor disputes and fraud; landlord/tenant matters; real estate taxes and real estate tax foreclosures; deed transfers; tangled title probates; utility shutoffs during moratorium period; and demolition and other property damage issues.
Elder Abuse and Domestic Violence: protection from abuse and other protective matters including ejectments, defiant trespass, revocations of POAs, Representative Payee status (Social Security) and Fiduciary Status (VA benefits); investigation and prevention of financial exploitation including scams, identity theft, unauthorized access and use of bank accounts, credit cards, other credit vehicles;
Family Law: custody and support for grandparents and other kinship caregivers; spousal support for victims of domestic violence.
Advance Life Planning: with panels of volunteer attorneys, drafting of simple wills, living wills, financial and health care powers of attorney.
Consumer Protection: contracts and warranties; fraudulent/unfair sales practices; small claims and unfair debt collection; credit reporting problems; private health/hospital insurance; and private pension issues.
PA SeniorLAW HelpLine: All areas of Pennsylvania and some federal civil law (limited representation).