Our nonprofit partner, Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP), addresses the unmet legal needs of Philadelphia’s homeless population with the goal of solving the unique legal problems that homeless and low-income individuals face. HAP was founded in 1990 through the efforts of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Problems of the Homeless Committee, Community Legal Services (CLS), and homeless advocates. HAP engages in direct outreach to homeless individuals with the help of their staff and over 350 volunteers.
Homeless individuals face specific challenges in the legal system and are often unaware of the resources available to assist them. Thus, these individuals are less likely and able to make use of legal services programs. HAP eases this barrier to access by delivering legal services directly to places where homeless individuals live, eat and gather.
HAP conducts monthly legal clinics at 25 homeless shelters, transitional housing sites, overnight cafes, and soup kitchens. Legal clinics are staffed by a HAP staff attorney and volunteer legal assistants and law students, who provide free legal counseling and representation and connect homeless individuals with social services. HAP also hosts special legal clinics to help individuals obtain birth certificates so they can apply for housing and activate public benefits.
Since their inception in 1990, HAP volunteers have helped more than 49,000 homeless people, and have provided more than $79 million worth of free legal services to their clients.
Beyond legal clinics, HAP also hosts several projects including their Adopt-a-Shelter program in which a firm or corporate legal department staffs a legal clinic on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Their Children, Youth, and Families Project conducts special legal clinics at family shelters to address the urgent legal needs of homeless children, such as access to federal disability funds, special education services, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits, and family law issues. Their Veterans Project specifically serves homeless veterans, a vulnerable population that has been overlooked by the public interest sector in the past. Through this project, HAP educates and advocates for homeless veterans, as well as representing injured veterans on claims for VA benefits. HAP’s SSI Outreach Access and Recovery (SOAR) Project provides rapid SSI/SSDI benefits for disabled homeless adults, youth aging out of foster care, and mentally ill prisoners being released. SSI/SSDI benefits provide eligible homeless people with the economic resources needed to secure safe housing.
Learn more about Homeless Advocacy Project.