Many of our nonprofit partners, including Regional Housing Legal Services (RHLS), Community Legal Services (CLS), Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA), and the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), are working together through a collaboration known as the Community Redevelopment Legal Assistance (CRLA) project to help address housing instability in Philadelphia.
According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia experienced a substantial decline in homeownership from 2000-2012, much of which came after the 2008 financial crisis. RHLS found that Germantown and the Oak Lanes were among the neighborhoods that could most benefit from the CRLA funds. Germantown and the Oak Lanes, which are majority black neighborhoods, are still experiencing disproportionately high rates of foreclosure, vacancy, and unemployment.
In order to address these negative consequences, RHLS brought other Philadelphia legal aid organizations together to work on the CRLA project. According to Claudia De Palma, a staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center, Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance are helping homeowners avoid property tax foreclosure. CLS’s Energy Unit is also helping Philadelphians tackle unpaid utility bills, helping them access payment programs, and defending them against shutoffs.
These legal aid organizations are working to help residents increase their household incomes. PLA is representing individuals who are having difficulty claiming federal tax refunds or who are dealing with IRS debts, as well as those who need assistance obtaining unemployment compensation or other public benefits. PILC is lowering barriers to employment faced by residents with criminal records by providing Know Your Rights trainings to job-seekers and reaching out to employers. The combined effort of our nonprofit partners is strengthening and uplifting communities across the City.
Cynthia Daley, RHLS’s Director of Community Redevelopment Initiatives, told Montgomery news, “CRLA draws on the expertise and passion of the legal services community to help people hold on to their homes and improve the quality of life for residents of Northwest Philadelphia.” The CRLA project is representative of the benefits of collaboration for communities in need.
Learn more about the efforts of our nonprofit partners for the Community Redevelopment Legal Assistance project in the Montgomery News.