PHILADELPHIA (November 25, 2019) — In 2019, Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP (Klehr Harrison) celebrates the 20th anniversary of the firm participating with the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) to advocate for the legal rights of Philadelphians experiencing homelessness. Since the inception of our relationship, 44 attorneys and staff have worked on several hundreds of cases, assisting HAP clients in obtaining benefits, birth certificates, food stamps, pension, SSI/SSDI, and wages along with working on criminal, consumer debt/bankruptcy, family law, identity theft, immigration, landlord tenant, and subsidized housing cases.
On Thursday, November 21, the firm celebrated the occasion with a reception at Klehr Harrison’s offices by presenting HAP with a financial gift in the amount of $10,000 from the firm and $5,000 from Jon Katona, who currently serves on the HAP Board of Directors as immediate past president.
The firm’s relationship with HAP began when Charles Ercole, who had served on HAP’s Board of Directors while at his prior firm, joined Klehr Harrison in 1999. Ercole got the firm involved with volunteering at the HAP Legal Clinic at the Red Shield Family Residence Shelter on North Broad Street. In 2012, Klehr Harrison switched its adoption from Red Shield to a clinic at St. John's Hospice. "From the beginning of my time here, the firm has been very supportive of our involvement with HAP - both with cases arising out of the monthly legal clinics as well as being a sponsor at the annual spring fundraiser. Aditionally, several of our attorneys have served on the HAP Board, including Randi Rubin and Jon Katona," said Ercole.
In the past ten years alone, Klehr Harrison attorneys and paralegals have handled 238 separate legal matters for HAP’s clients living in 32 separate homeless shelters, overnight cafes, and soup kitchens. Significantly, Klehr Harrison is one of the few firms that handles family law matters for HAP. “Homelessness is devastating in many ways, but being able to raise a family and provide for the needs of children is extremely complicated for parents without a home of their own. The Klehr Harrison family law group makes assisting parents whom we meet through HAP a priority when attempting to overcome this daunting challenge. Keeping families affected by homelessness together or helping to reunify them is a rewarding experience,” David Steerman noted.
“Klehr Harrison is proud of its association with the Homeless Advocacy Project, and understands how HAP’s mission and work dramatically improve its clients’ lives. HAP’s clients are vulnerable and desperately in need of help. Klehr Harrison is proud to be one of the Philadelphia area law firms that plays a part in helping them through HAP. I know that the Klehr Harrison attorneys who volunteer with HAP find the experience rewarding. Personally, I have found working with HAP clients to be some of the most meaningful experiences that I have as an attorney,” said Katona, who has managed the firm’s involvement in the HAP legal clinic at St. John’s Hospice on Race Street for the past seven years.
HAP’s Executive Director, Marsha Cohen, commented, “I am astonished that 20 years have gone by since Chuck and I first started attending Red Shield together. It was an honor partnering with Chuck for all of those years and it’s been a pleasure working with Jon for almost a decade. Klehr Harrison’s excellent and kind-hearted lawyers are the very best of Philadelphia’s legal talent.”
About The Homeless Advocacy Project
HAP was formed in 1990 by attorneys from the Philadelphia Bar Association and the homeless services community to address the unmet legal needs of Philadelphia’s homeless population. 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. Living in crisis, often without income or resources, homeless persons are less likely, and less able, than other indigent clients to make use of Center City-based legal services programs. Through its 16 member staff and 350+ volunteer law students, lawyers, and paralegals from major area law firms and corporations, HAP engages in direct outreach to homeless individuals and families by staffing clinics at shelters and other areas around the city that are easily accessible to the homeless.