Established in 1990, the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) is the only legal services organization dedicated to providing direct civil legal services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia. HAP also advocates for the needs of the City’s homeless population, promoting positive changes in policies that impact those needs.
HAP’s work is guided by its vision, mission, and values.
VISION: All Philadelphians at risk of or experiencing homelessness have equal access to justice and the means to secure safe and stable housing.
MISSION: To provide free civil legal services and advocacy to reduce the frequency and duration of homelessness in Philadelphia.
HAP’S VALUES: Individuals and families experiencing homelessness have unique legal problems and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
HAP’S VALUES INCLUDE:
- Service – Represent clients’ rights and interests with free, high quality civil legal services;
- Outreach – Meet clients where they eat, sleep, and access services;
- Advocacy – Advocate on issues affecting poverty and homelessness;
- Integrity – Serve clients with professionalism, integrity and compassion; and
- Community – Collaborate with legal and social service partners to reduce the occurrence, impact and frequency of homelessness in Philadelphia.
In 1990, HAP was founded in the belief that people experiencing homelessness have unique and complex legal problems that often are not adequately addressed by traditional providers of legal services to indigent and low-income individuals.
Individuals experiencing homelessness lead transient, unstable lives, and are often debilitated by mental illness, substance abuse, and/or inadequate education. They frequently lack an understanding of their legal rights and the ability to make effective use of the network of advocacy and service organizations that are available to assist them. Living in crisis, often without income or resources, persons experiencing homelessness are less likely, and less able, than other indigent clients to make use of Center City-based legal services programs.
Since its inception, HAP has conducted legal clinics by reaching out to its clients in places where they live and eat, such as homeless shelters, transitional housing sites, overnight cafes, and soup kitchens throughout Philadelphia.
By recruiting and training volunteer attorneys, legal assistants, and law students to staff these clinics, HAP is able to provide free legal counseling and representation to a population not adequately served by other legal services programs. HAP also collaborates with shelter providers, homeless advocates, and community service providers to connect clients with other social services.
Annually HAP holds over 100 legal clinics at 25 sites throughout Philadelphia. Since HAP’s first legal clinic in December 1990, HAP’s staff and 350 volunteers have helped more than 55,000 people and have provided more than $94 million worth of free legal services to clients experiencing homelessness.
HAP in Action!
Celebrating 25 Years
The Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP), founded in 1990, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015. In honor of this milestone, a video was made to tell its story, from inception to present day:
The law firm of Duffy + Fulginiti, through its founder (and HAP Board Member), Tom Duffy, is committed to making a difference in the City of Philadelphia through the firm’s work on behalf of the catastrophically injured and through service to many charitable organizations. In 2012, the “Duffy Fellowship” was established by Duffy + Fulginiti to underwrite a staff attorney’s salary at the City’s most well-regarded legal service organizations. HAP is honored to have received funding to support three Duffy Fellows:
- Alie Muolo has been a HAP Staff Attorney since 2014 and currently works on the Duffy KARE (Kensington, Advocacy, Representation, and Empowerment) Project. With the ultimate goal of helping individuals achieve housing stability and independence, the Duffy KARE Project provides comprehensive legal assistance to individuals, including those displaced by the homeless encampment closure, focusing on access to treatment and disability benefits through HAP’s SOAR Project. Alie is also a member of HAP’s Veterans Project.
- Joel Sobel is also a member of HAP’s Veterans Project and works exclusively with veterans experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia, assisting with various legal claims, including compensation/pension issues, SSI/SSDI outreach, and recovery programs.
- Neha, a Staff Attorney from 2014-2019, was the first recipient of a Duffy Fellowship at HAP.