Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) - Legal Services to Help Break the Cycle of Poverty and Homelessness in Philadelphia
HAP's Veterans Project is the only legal assistance program in Philadelphia that specifically targets homeless veterans. Through the Veterans Project, HAP has expanded its reach into the homeless community to educate and advocate on behalf of a particularly vulnerable population that had previously been overlooked by Philadelphia's public interest sector.
Legal Assistance

Veterans Project

HAP is the only legal services organization in Philadelphia directly committed to serving homeless veterans. The Veterans Project is designed to help Philadelphia’s homeless veterans achieve income self-sufficiency and stability in housing, primarily through access to various veterans benefits programs.

Homeless veterans are confronted with many of the same legal obstacles that ordinary homeless people face.  However, veterans are also confronted with a complex system of laws, regulations, and rules administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). With an in-depth understanding of veterans law, and years of advocating for veterans before the VA, our attorneys are uniquely positioned to help veterans obtain VA benefits where many other attorneys and veterans service organizations have failed. 

HAP’s work with veterans began in 2001.  Even though the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had not yet started, HAP sensed that homeless veterans were suffering, at least in part, due to a lack of attorneys with an understanding of veterans law. As a result, HAP began a monthly legal clinic at the Veterans Multi-Purpose Center (VMC), a drop-in center for homeless veterans that provides hot meals and a full range of social services. 

HAP’s instincts were immediately confirmed.  Homeless veterans from all corners of the city began frequenting the clinics for assistance with their legal needs. Before long, many veterans who had been denied VA benefits for years – some since the Vietnam War – were approved for monthly compensation and VA medical care.  In addition, since VA compensation benefits are typically more generous than other government benefit programs, many veterans received large lump sum back payments and ongoing monthly compensation for their service-connected injuries. This, in turn, has allowed many veterans to move into safe, affordable, and dignified housing. 

Due to its tremendous success, HAP expanded its services to veterans beyond the VMC, operating clinics at two other homeless shelters for veterans, as well as Philadelphia’s VA Medical Center. HAP has also expanded its services to include discharge upgrades for veterans – often combat veterans – who have been unfairly discharged from the military with discharges that prevent them from receiving any VA benefits, including healthcare for service-connected conditions. To effectively provide all of these services, HAP has three attorneys on staff with expertise in veterans law. 

HAP’s successful work with veterans has led to both local and national media recognition. It has also made HAP a go-to resource on veterans law for lawyers and law firms committed to providing pro bono legal services to veterans. HAP attorneys regularly conduct CLE courses for lawyers, and have travelled as far as Atlanta and Boston to train pro bono attorneys.

HAP does not discriminate among veterans.  Young or old, combat or non-combat, honorably or dishonorably discharged, if they took an oath to serve the United States and are now homeless, we are here to help.  No other legal services organization is better suited to ensuring that their rights are protected, and nobody else has achieved more success helping them obtain their VA benefits.

For more information or to volunteer for this project, please contact one of our veterans law attorneys at:
Neha Yadav Chiaramonte:  neha@haplegal.org
Alie Muolo:  amuolo@haplegal.org
Michael Taub:  mtaub@haplegal.org 


Michael Taub discusses the evolution of the Veterans Project on HAP's 25th Anniversary.

The Veterans Project achieved 14 years of success in 2014. Read an article celebrating the 10th year in the January 24, 2011 issue of The Legal Intelligencer.

Michael Taub was nominated by Readers Digest for Hero of the Year 2006. Listen to his interview.



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