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 49,000 clients, providing free civil legal services worth over $79 million.

Last year, HAP helped over 3,000 clients with over 50 different types of civil legal cases. 

In 2017, HAP provided advice and referrals to 1,615 clients and extended representation to 1,405 homeless clients, including 139 veterans and 253 homeless children and youth.

Through HAP's celebrated "SOAR" (SSI/SSDI Outreach Access and Recovery) Project, over 2,000 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 98% success rate and disabled men and women are found eligible for SSI benefits within only 52 days on average.  

HAP’s volunteers helped 720 clients with their birth certificates in 2017. 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.

HAP v. NYC. In 2016, HAP successfully sued New York City in federal district court to force it to create a process for issuing birth certificates in line with every state in the country, including New York State. Birth certificates are essential documents for individuals attempting to access housing, employment and social services including medical treatment.  Under the new system in place, homeless individuals living anywhere in the world can now access their birth certificates under a new attorney protocol enacted as a result of the law suit.  For more information about the suit, see:

Updated June 2018
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