Established in 1990, the Homeless Advocacy Project 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 our clients in broader terms, promoting changes in city policies that benefit its most vulnerable people.

To see some of the services we provide, click here. 

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 individuals and families experiencing homelessness have unique and complex legal problems that often are not adequately addressed by traditional providers of legal services to this population.

Individuals experiencing homelessness lead transient, unstable lives, and are often further challenged by mental illness, substance use disorder, trauma, limited or no work history, and/or inadequate education. They need assistance understanding and advocating for their legal rights and effectively using the available network of supports and services. HAP’s clients are among Philadelphia’s most isolated and hard-to-reach people.

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, and soup kitchens throughout Philadelphia. More recently, HAP has added virtual clinics, weekly telephone intake sessions, and an online Request Help Now form to the mix.

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.

Since HAP’s first legal clinic in December 1990, HAP’s staff and 350 volunteers have helped more than 63,000 people and have provided more than $114 million worth of free legal services to clients experiencing homelessness.

HAP in Action!

HAP’s staff and volunteers have helped over 63,000 clients, providing free civil legal services worth more than $114 million.
Annually HAP conducts free legal clinics in homeless shelters and soup kitchens throughout Philadelphia.
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 people experiencing homelessness on Philadelphia’s streets.
In 2022, HAP provided advice and information to 1,177 clients and extended representation to 1,547 clients experiencing homelessness.

A Lever for Change

The Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP)’s Executive Director, Tanya Rambert, delivers a 90 second summary of the life-changing programs we offer. At the heart of each is our client-driven service model, rooted in treating each of the individuals we serve with respect and dignity.

Duffy Fellowship

Tom Duffy, HAP Board Member, is committed to making a difference in the City of Philadelphia through his firm’s work on behalf of the catastrophically injured and through service to many charitable organizations. In 2012, the “Duffy Fellowship” was established to underwrite a staff attorney’s salary at the City’s most well-regarded legal service organizations. HAP is honored to have received funding since 2017 that currently supports two Duffy Fellows, as well as historical Duffy Fellows:

  • Andrew Feigenbaum joined the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) in March 2023 as a Staff Attorney primarily working on the SOAR Project, securing federal disability benefits for clients experiencing homelessness. He oversees legal clinics in partnership with Families Forward and Prevention Point Philadelphia and represents HAP on the local Illegal Eviction Action Team and Tenant Advocates working group. In 2024, he was appointed HAP’s latest Duffy Fellow.
  • Joel Sobel provides direct legal representation on a wide array of civil matters to individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia. Joel previously worked in a program designed to reduce recidivism for those suffering from substance abuse disorder by linking them to treatment and case management services. As a Staff Attorney, Joel has run clinics at numerous sites throughout the city, and currently supervises HAP’s weekly embedded attorney program.  In addition to his direct representation, Joel is heavily involved in HAP’s broader systemic advocacy issues.  In 2024, Joel was named Director of Intake and Outreach to oversee how HAP connects to clients. He has been a Duffy Fellow since 2019.

If your organization would like to establish a similar fellowship to benefit Homeless Advocacy Project, we welcome you to contact us at (215) 523-9595 or toll-free (800) 837-2672.