Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) - Legal Services to Help Break the Cycle of Poverty and Homelessness in Philadelphia
HAP Staff

HAP's Recent Accomplishments

Each night in Philadelphia, over 3,000 homeless men, women, and children seek emergency shelter in Philadelphia's shelters, transitional housing facilities, and overnight cafes.  

Since 1990, HAP's staff and volunteers have helped over 42,800 clients, providing free civil legal services worth over $64 million.

Last year, HAP helped close to 3,500 clients with over 50 different types of civil legal cases. 

In 2015, HAP provided advice and referrals to 1,594 clients and extended representation to 1,902 clients, including 167 veterans and 299 homeless children and youth.

Through HAP's celebrated "SOAR" (SSI/SSDI Outreach Access and Recovery) Project, over 1,330 homeless men and women who are too disabled to work have secured Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits on an expedited basis. 

HAP’s SOAR Project has a 99.6% success rate and disabled men and women are found eligible for SSI benefits within only 50 days on average.  

HAP’s volunteers helped 1,114 clients obtain birth certificates in 2015. A birth record is required in order to access housing programs and to secure a state-issued photo identification which is needed for employment and other services.

HAP holds over 125 annual legal clinics in 25 different shelters, soup kitchens, transitional housing sites, and overnight cafes throughout Philadelphia. HAP's legal clinics are staffed by a corps of over 350 volunteer attorneys, paralegals, and law students from 39 local law firms, corporate legal departments, and law schools.  

HAP remains diligent in protecting the right to vote. In 2012, HAP joined as a plaintiff in litigation to challenge Pennsylvania's Voter Identification law, a law that would require all would-be voters to bring state-issued photo ID to the polls to vote on election day – a burden for many people experiencing homelessness. As a result of the litigation, the PA Voter ID law was declared unconstitutional in 2014. 

HAP continues to advocate against the criminalization of homelessness, most recently working with civil rights activists to identify and stop police officers from improperly issuing citations to homeless men and women on Philadelphia’s streets.   

HAP works to ensure that homeless individuals continue to have access to outdoor food services on the Parkway given that existing food pantries and soup kitchens cannot meet the overwhelming needs of homeless and hungry Philadelphians.

HAP continues to advocate for sufficient emergency housing  placement for homeless parents and their children and is responsible for Philadelphia's recent addition of 80 family shelter beds. HAP regularly surveys clients at the City's intake site for homeless families to ensure that families are not left on the streets. 

HAP continues to expand its Veterans and SOAR Projects to bring essential cash benefits and medical assistance to disabled Philadelphians, including veterans, mothers over their 60-month Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) limits, youth aging out of foster care, prisoners re-entering society, and victims of human trafficking.

Vote for HOMES!  Since 1999, HAP has been active in Vote for HOMES!, a non-partisan initiative working to raise the issues of housing and homelessness during local, state, and national elections. HOMES! has organized candidates debates, registered thousands of homeless and formerly homeless persons to vote, conducted voter education seminars in shelters located throughout the city, created voter guide materials, organized pre-election rallies, and initiated postcard campaigns urging candidates for local, state, and federal office to pledge to end homelessness in Philadelphia.

Updated February 2016
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