Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) - Legal Services to Help Break the Cycle of Poverty and Homelessness in Philadelphia
The Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP)
collaborates with shelter providers, homeless advocates, community service providers and the
legal community to provide homeless clients with
legal representation and to connect them with other social services.
HAP at Playground

HAPpenings Archive

December 2016
Volunteer Recognition Event. On Monday, December 5, HAP held its volunteer recognition event at Dechert where HAP's star volunteers were feted for their extraordinary work with HAP. View Photos.


November 2016
The City of New York has been SERVED. HAP's lawsuit against New York City for unconstitutionally depriving homeless Philadelphians of their birth certificates is profiled in One Step Away, page 4.

Veterans Clinic to Provide End of Life Planning Documents. HAP partnered with Duane Morris to provide homeless veterans with free end-of-life documents at the VMC (Perimeter) on Thursday, November 10th at 11:00am. For more information email mtaub@haplegal.org.


October 2016
Michael Taub honored with Mary Philbrook Public Interest Award. On Thursday, October 20, 2016, HAP’s staff gathered to celebrate HAP Staff Attorney Michael Taub's receipt of Rutger's Law School Mary Philbrook award in honor of his superb work representing homeless veterans. View Photos.

News Alert: HAP files suit against New York City for unconstitutionally interfering with homeless Philadelphian’s ability to obtain photo Identification. See Press Release. Read Complaint.

Birth Certificate Clinic at PECO Exelon, October 6. 59 legal volunteers from 10 Corporations (Cigna, Comcast, Chubb, Independence Blue Cross, Lincoln Financial, Merck, PNC, Subaru and Wawa) and the law firm Pepper Hamilton helped 111 homeless individuals and families to obtain birth certificates. Learn More.


August 2016
2016 Philadelphia Bar Foundation Award. HAP Executive Director, Marsha Cohen, is the recipient of the 2016 Philadelphia Bar Foundation Award, which recognizes a public interest attorney who is dedicating his or her life to promoting equal access to justice for all by working in the non-profit legal services community. Read More.

Back to school backpack and supplies for Eliza Shirley. HAP's Senior Staff Attorney Pat Malley joined HAP Board Member Nancy Smith of Lincoln Financial, Kelly O'Malley of Reger Rizzo & Darnall, and Krystal Kane of Blank Rome in stuffing 30 brand new back packs with school supplies for the children of the Eliza Shirley House. Read More.


July 2016
HAP Client Success Story. HAP Board Member Lori Lasher writes about a recent client success story for the July edition of the Philadelphia Bar Association Bar Reporter. Read More.

Mary Philbrook Public Interest Award. HAP Staff attorney Michael Taub was selected to receive the Rutgers Law School Mary Philbrook Public Interest Award which recognizes Mary Philbrook, the first woman admitted to the New Jersey Bar. Read More.

Birth Certificate Clinic at Project HOME, July 13. This morning 28 HAP volunteers from 7 corporations and 6 law firms: Chubb, Cigna, Comcast, Exelon, Lincoln Financial, Merck and PNC; and Blank Rome, Hogan Lovells, Klehr Harrison, Montgomery McCracken, Morgan Lewis and White & Williams prepared birth certificate applications for 197 clients: 149 adults and 48 children from Pennsylvania and 16 other states! View Photos.


June 2016
HAP wins Davis Award from Ballard Spahr. On Friday, June 10, Ballard Spahr celebrated our 20 year pro bono partnership providing high quality legal services to homeless individuals through our clinic at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission by honoring our work together with the Alan J. Davis Award. The award, in memory of Mr. Davis and his deep commitment to public service, recognizes exemplary legal representation in matters involving the public good. Read More/View Photo.


May 2016
Birth Certificate Clinic at People's Emergency Center, May 10. This morning at the People's Emergency Center, a small team of 6 lawyers from Saul Ewing and Ballard Spahr joined HAP to serve 97 homeless clients: 65 adults and 32 children with their birth certificate applications. Thank you to HAP Board member Dennis Brennan of Saul Ewing for leading his small team to a great result. Birth Certificates are essential documents for individuals seeking housing, employment, identification and services. View photo.


April 2016
Comcast Cares Day at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission. On Saturday, April 30, HAP’s Marsha Cohen and Meg Retz joined attorneys from Ballard Sphar and Comcast (including HAP Board members Scott Towers of Ballard and Mike Eagles of Comcast) to help beautify Sunday Breakfast Mission, the men's shelter where Ballard and Comcast have co-adopted a HAP legal clinic for the past 20 years. The morning of painting, gardening and clean-up at SBA was for Comcast Cares Day. View Photos.

View the Benefit Photo Gallery. HAP held its Annual Benefit on April 7, 2016 at the Sofitel Philadelphia, presented by Lincoln Financial Foundation. Many thanks to all of HAP's Sponsors and Supporters.


March 2016
Birth Certificate Clinic at PECO, March 1. 47 corporate legal volunteers from 8 corporations (Comcast, HP, Lincoln Financial, PECO/Exelon, Pep Boys, PNC, Subaru and Verizon) joined attorneys from HAP and Ballard Spahr at PECO's headquarters to assist over 100 clients with 116 birth certificate applications for 96 adults and 20 children. This is the 14th "all hands" Birth Certificate legal clinic that PECO/Exelon has hosted for HAP's clients. View Photos.


December 2015
Holiday party for shelter families. On December 5, the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, under the leadership of HAP Board Member Jon Cochran, hosted the firm's 11th annual holiday party for the families at Families Forward. Santa came and dozens of happy children and their parents were treated to presents and yummy snacks. View photos.

Make a Gift to Support HAP this Holiday Season. Twenty-five years ago, in December 1990, the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) opened its first legal clinic. HAP was created to address the unmet legal needs of Philadelphia's homeless population by holding free legal clinics in the places where people experiencing homelessness live and eat. HAP and its corps of dedicated volunteers have provided free civil legal services to over 40,000 unduplicated homeless individuals and families. The generosity of our supporters has enabled HAP to continue to expand its outreach and to enhance its services to the homeless community. Read letter from Marsha Cohen.


October 2015
Birth Certificate Legal Clinic at PECO, October 14. A record 55 volunteers from 10 corporations and one law firm: Aetna, Cigna, HP, Lincoln Financial, Merck, PNC, TE Connectivity, Subaru, Wawa, Blank Rome and our wonderful hosts PECO/Exelon, saw 65 homeless clients, processing 79 birth certificate intakes for 64 adults and 15 children. The clinic was conducted in record time. HAP was surprised that the clinic wasn’t more busy, as recent birth certificate clinics have been packed. Thank you to our Board Member host Kevin Stepanuk and his tremendous team at PECO/Exelon, and to Board Member Nancy Smith from Lincoln Financial who attended the event.


September 2015
Back to school backpack and supplies for Eliza Shirley. On September 2, HAP staff members joined staff from Blank Rome, Reger Rizzo & Darnall and Lincoln Financial Company to stuff 30 brand new back packs with new school supplies for all of the school-aged children living at the Eliza Shirley shelter where Blank Rome, Reger and Lincoln Financial staff a monthly HAP legal clinic for the families living in the shelter. Read More/View Photos


June 2015
Join HAP for a Young Friends HAPpy Hour! Tuesday, June 23, 5:30-7:00 pm at Misconduct Tavern. Learn about becoming a HAP legal volunteer and network with other young local attorneys and professionals. Complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. RSVP by June 22 to leonora@haplegal.org or call 215-523-9588. Learn more.


April 2015
HAP Celebrating 25 Years. In honor of HAP's 25th Anniversary Celebration, a video was made to tell their story, from their inception to the work they are doing today.

View the Benefit Photo Gallery. HAP was thrilled to raise over $300,000 from more than 100 sponsors, entertaining 350 guests at the Sofitel on the evening of April 9, 2015. Many thanks to all of HAP's Sponsors and Supporters.

Marsha Cohen's Presentation at the Benefit. HAP's Executive Director Marsha Cohen speaks about 25 years of HAP on April 9, 2015.

Michael Taub's Presentation at the Benefit. HAP's Veterans Attorney Michael Taub discusses the evolution of HAP's famed Veterans Project on HAP’s 25th Anniversary.

Sandy Ballard's Presentation at the Benefit. HAP's first Executive Director Sandy Ballard discusses the creation of HAP in 1990.

Benefit Featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer. HAP's 25th Anniversary Benefit was in the Philadelphia Inquirer. See the photo gallery at philly.com.


March 2015
Birth Certificate Clinic at Project HOME, March 18, 2015. Twenty-eight volunteers from 6 corporations (AAA, ACE, Drexel, Lincoln Financial, Merck and PECO/Exelon) and 7 law firms (Blank Rome, Dilworth, Gibbons, Morgan Lewis, Reger Rizzo, Saul Ewing and White & Williams) participated in this “all-hands” Birth Certificate legal clinic. HAP's volunteers met with and processed a record 247 birth certificate requests for 208 adults and 39 children!


January 2015
Hub for Hope, homeless center, searches for a home underground. HAP's Executive Director Marsha Cohen weighs in on the City’s delay in getting the Winter Initiative, to help the chronically homeless, up and running this year. Read the article.

Support HAP by Shopping at Whole Foods on January 5th. On Monday, January 5th, the Whole Foods Market – Callowhill store is donating 5% of store sales to HAP, to support our mission to provide free legal services to homeless individuals and families in Philadelphia.


November 2014
Pepper Hamilton Community Service Award. Congratulations to HAP's Michael Taub who received Pepper Hamilton's Community Service Award in recognition of his work at HAP. Attorneys from Pepper Hamilton partner with HAP to provide free legal aid to the veterans living at Impact Services in North Philadelphia. View photo.

Volunteer Attorneys Help Indigent Philadelphians Get Government ID. On November 3, a Birth Certificate legal clinic was hosted by PECO. About 60 attorneys, including about 25 provided by PECO, helped homeless Philadelphians apply for a birth certificate. Read the CBS Philly article.


October 2014
Congratulations to HAP volunteer Heather Rennie who received an award from Merck for her pro bono work with HAP. For the past five years, Heather has supervised Merck's HAP legal clinic at Project HOME where she has taken responsibility for over 67 legal cases! View Photo.

HAP volunteers for WHYY's pledge drive during Morning Edition Oct. 9. Shout out to HAP board member Kevin Stepanuk of PECO/Exelon who got up early to work the phones with HAP! View Photos.


June 2014
GSK Legal team signed up to help "adopt a shelter". HAP is thrilled to welcome the attorneys from GSK to our St John's legal clinic in partnership with Dechert and Klehr Harrison. Led by Andy Boczkowski, they have jumped in with great enthusiasm and heart. Read how this clinic came to be.


May 2014
Homeless Advocacy Project reaches out to veterans in need. This Memorial Day, the Philadelphia Inquirer highlighted the important work of HAP's Veterans Project, headed by attorney Michael Taub. Thanks to the generosity of Philadelphia personal injury lawyer Thomas Duffy, Neha Yadav recently joined Michael as a full-time attorney in the Project. Read the Article.


April 2014
View Photos from HAP's Annual Benefit presented by Lincoln Financial, Morgan Lewis, Blank Rome, Dechert, Robert E. Keith Jr, Merck, and PECO. Many thanks to all of HAP's sponsors and supporters.

Comments on Healthy Pennsylvania 1115 Demonstration Application. On April 9th, HAP Managing Attorney Michele Levy submitted comments on the Healthy Pennsylvania Demonstration Application, highlighting HAP's many concerns about the ways in which it would limit the health care available to homeless Pennsylvanias, especially those suffering from serious mental illness. Read HAP's complete Comments.


March 2014
HAP on CBS' Talk Philly. Executive Director Marsha Cohen and Board member Tom Duffy discuss HAP's mission and homelessness - March 31, 2014.

SOAR Training. On March 6th, HAP attorneys Pat Malley and Meg Retz trained over 50 new advocates to represent homeless men and women in SSI/SSDI matters utilizing the SOAR model, a special fast track disability project. HAP pro bono partners Ballard Spahr LLC and Comcast co-sponsored the event. View Photo.


January 2014
Tanya Rambert joined the HAP team as our new Director of Operations. Welcome, Tanya!


December 2013
SOAR Re-Entry Project Launched. HAP is pleased to report the official launch of its SOAR Re-Entry Project with funding from the Samuel S. Fels Fund and the Barra Foundation. Approximately 20% of incarcerated men and women diagnosed with serious mental illness were homeless in the months leading to their incarceration. Unless they can access a stable source of income, these same offenders are likely to resume homelessness when they are discharged from prison. Read More.


November 2013
Thanksgiving Success Story. What are we at HAP thankful for this Thanksgiving? The pleasure of working with long-time volunteers like Ethan Fogel, a HAP board member and partner at Dechert, LLP. This past Friday, Ethan showed his dedication to HAP and our clients by going above and beyond to provide emergency free legal help to a veteran dying from cancer. Read More.

HAP receives GSK IMPACT Award. HAP was one of seven innovative nonprofits to receive a $40,000 GSK IMPACT Award for contributing to a healthier Philadelphia. Photo and Press Release.


September 2013
Birth Certificate Clinic-September 20. 38 volunteers from 10 corporations and 1 law firm (Aetna, Cigna, Lincoln Financial, Merck, PECO/Exelon, Pep Boys, Saul Ewing, Subaru, Verizon, Wawa and 21st Century) processed birth certificate requests for 105 adults and 29 homeless children! Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers for helping these homeless men, women, and children with their identification needs. Read More.
View Photos.

Vet with PTSD Finally Gets Benefits He's Owed - HAP Attorney Michael Taub and volunteer Eric Henry (DLA Piper) in the September issue of the Bar Reporter.


July 2013
Power of Attorney Clinic-July 9.
23 legal volunteers from 8 law firms and corporate legal departments joined HAP and SeniorLAW Center to host a Living Wills/Power of Attorney legal clinic for 26 residents of Project HOME. Read More and Photo.

HAP Announces New Partnerships. HAP welcomes Drinker Biddle & Reath and NFI Industries as a new Adopt-A-Shelter Partners. NFI Industries has adopted HAP's clinic at Station House and Drinker Biddle has adopted a new clinic at Broad Street Ministry.

HAP Launches a New Clinic. Thanks to volunteers from Drinker Biddle, HAP launched a new clinic at Broad Street Ministry this month. The first clinic was held on June 12th and was a huge success! HAP now holds legal clinics at 26 different shelters, overnight cafes and soup kitchens throughout the Philadelphia area.


June 2013
June Success Story. From HAP Volunteer Elizabeth Klaproth, a Buchanan Ingersoll attorney. Read Story.

Thank you to HAP's Veterans Attorney Michael Taub

Welcome to HAP's new legal interns, Allie Skarka and Christian Pleskov!


May 2013
Congratulations! HAP Attorneys Meg Retz and Morgen Black-Smith are 2013 Steppy Award Winners, chosen to "honor those working to bring Philadelphia one step closer to ending homelessness".


April 2013
Thank you to our April Benefit Sponsors. View the Benefit Photo Gallery.

HAP on CBS' Talk Philly. Executive Director Marsha Cohen and Board President Steve Harvey discuss HAP's mission and homelessness - April 9, 2013.


December 2012
Homeless Memorial Day. HAP attended this annual event on December 19th, honoring those who died while experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia this year.
View Photo.

Executive Board Member Ashely Chan organized Hangley Aronchick's annual Holiday party for the children of the West Philadelphia Kirkbride shelter on December 8, 2012. The kids created terrific artwork at this event. Hangley, along with Gibbons and Drexel University have adopted HAP's legal clinic at this very crowded site for homeless families. View Photos.


September 2012
Birth Certificate Clinic September 12. 45 legal volunteers from 14 corporations and 1 law firm (Merck, AAA Mid Atlantic, Ballard Spahr, Chartis, Comcast, Aetna, Lincoln Financial Group, Cigna, Independence Blue Cross, Penske, NFI Industries, Subaru, GSK and The Pew Charitable Trusts) joined HAP at PECO's headquarters on Market Street to process applications for 134 adults and 65 children in 2.5 hours! Read More.

Back to school backpack and supplies for Eliza Shirley. Prior to Labor Day this fall, Lincoln Financial, Blank Rome and Reger Rizzo, the three entities that have adopted HAP's legal clinic at the Eliza Shirley Family Shelter, teamed together to provide back packs with school supplies for the 25 children living at Eliza Shirley. The school district donated the bags and HAP's partners did the rest. Read More.


July 2012
Rally For General Assistance. The General Assistance program was eliminated on August 1st. On July 31st, HAP joined protestors outside of Governor Corbett's Philadelphia office to ask: What happens next for the 35,000 poor, sick Philadelphians who have lost their only source of income?

PA Voter ID Trial. HAP Managing Attorney Michele Levy prepared an expert report for the PA Voter ID trial, scheduled for the week of July 23rd. Michele's report documents the struggles HAP clients face in obtaining the identification they will need to vote in the upcoming election. Read the full report here.


June 2012
Birth Certificate Clinic June 6: 31 volunteers from PECO/Exelon, Morgan Lewis, Stevens & Lee, Lincoln Financial, Pep Boys, Merck and Ballard Spahr joined HAP at Project HOME to help 107 homeless individuals obtain Birth Certificates - essential documents to enable homeless individuals to access public benefits, housing and photo ID. View Photos


May 2012
Rally Against State Budget Cuts. HAP staff, along with over 200 other protestors, gathered to let Governor Corbett know that a budget that hurts the poorest and sickest among us hurts us all. Have you urged your state representative to restore budget cuts and raise revenue? Click Here Now!


April 2012
HAP's SOAR Project is still the best in the country! Major researchers in the field of homelessness just published an issue brief: Establishing Eligibility for SSI for Chronically Homeless People.  They write: “The best performance by a SOAR project was Philadelphia’s Homeless Advocacy Project. It obtained 99 percent approval in an average of 32 days for 742 applications over a period of 4 years.”

April Benefit

Video: Marsha Cohen on CBS' Talk Philly


February 2012
HAP's Executive Director Marsha Cohen testified before City Council this past week. She spoke of the struggles families face as a result of the shortage of shelter beds in Philadelphia.


Winter 2012
HAP Board Member Blaine Stanley recognized by her alma mater, Duke Law School, for her work with HAP.


January 2012
HAP Executive Director Marsha Cohen on WHYY - Homeless advocates review Philly's progress on 10-year plan.


September 2011
The Inquirer Editorial Board writes, "The city needs to reenergize its efforts to get homeless families off the street. It's time to find a new strategy that works." Read the Inquirer editorial

There aren't enough beds in Philadelphia's crowded shelter system to provide a safe place to sleep for all of the children whose families need help. Learn how HAP's legal team is trying to assist these families


July 2011
HAP featured in Philadelphia Bar Reporter: Tales from the Front Lines of Pro Bono


May 2011
PECO congratulates HAP for 20 years of providing free civil legal services to homeless Philadelphians!

HAP Facebook Page HAP logo