Since its start in 1990, The Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) continues to meet the legal and advocacy needs of homeless individuals and families in Philadelphia. With a legal staff of 8 and a corps of 350 volunteer lawyers, paralegals, and law students, HAP engages in direct outreach to homeless individuals in need of legal services.
- Provide direct civil legal services to homeless families and individuals;
- Connect homeless clients with needed social services; and
- Advocate for the needs of Philadelphia’s homeless population and promote positive policy changes to address those needs.
HAP’s essential ingredient is community-based outreach to homeless persons. In the last decade, the number of homeless families and individuals in Philadelphia has continued to increase while the availability of affordable housing, as well as free legal aid and other services to the poor, has decreased. HAP’s unique outreach program is vital to a population whose legal needs would otherwise be unmet. HAP collaborates with shelter providers, homeless advocates, community service providers and the legal community.
Each year, HAP conducts 125 annual legal clinics at 25 homeless shelters, transitional housing sites, overnight cafes, and soup kitchens located throughout the City. At these clinics, HAP’s staff and volunteers meet and interview prospective clients, assess their legal needs, provide advice and referrals for services, and offer on-going legal representation and advocacy to those with more complex problems.
HAP also makes educational presentations to shelter residents and service providers to inform them of benefits and services available for homeless people, and to empower individuals to obtain benefits and services for themselves.
Through these efforts, HAP is often instrumental in helping homeless men, women, and children to obtain access to shelter, income, and services they need to make their way to more secure, stable lives.