Public Counsel's Homelessness Prevention Law Project (HPLP) serves individuals that are at high risk of becoming chronically homeless. HPLP has provided pro bono representation before administrative agencies to over 20,000 homeless individuals and families to secure food, shelter, clothing, and other vital benefits.
One of the largest legal advocacy programs, Public Counsel's CARES: Connecting Angelenos to Resources and Essential Services ensures that over 3,000 impoverished, hungry and homeless individuals every year receive much needed help in obtaining and retaining government benefits through advocacy by hundreds of volunteer law students and attorneys conducted directly at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) offices.
Sadly individuals are not the only ones that have to battle homelessness. Families are one of the fastest growing demographics of the homeless population, which is why HPLP devotes a significant portion of its resources to providing direct advocacy services not only to individuals but also to at-risk families through its many clinics to enable them to access cash aid, food stamps, transitional housing, and other essential benefits critical to the families' stability.
Social Security and Medical Benefits Advocacy
The chronically homeless and persons struggling with terminal illnesses, such as AIDS, need additional assistance in securing income and housing stability. Creating increased sources of income through Social Security and medical benefits advoacy not only helps them move into and retain permanent supportive housing but also ultimately contributes to funding of subsidized housing programs, thereby stretching the limited government dollars allocated to help this vulnerable population.
With the economic downturn impacting job security for many already struggling families and individuals, many more Angelino tenants are looking at the danger of homelessness because of an eviction. Public Counsel’s eviction defense team provides assistance through direct representation in the Stanley Mosk and the Pasadena Courthouses. In addition, they train and prepare self-represented tenants in those courthouses with clinics to assist them in defending their right to stay housed and prevent them becoming homelessness.
Public Counsel works closely with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the Los Angeles City Attorney's office, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, and the Los Angeles County Public Defender to operate a program that eliminates minor traffic citations, warrants, quality of life citations and related fines -- all of which can detrimentally affect employment opportunities -- for those (mostly formerly homeless) individuals who complete a residential and rehabilitation program.
Policy and Impact Litigation
HPLP identifies recurring barriers that may be contributing to the instability of the homeless population and works with government agencies and community partners to create better opportunities for permanency. However, where success is not achievable through meaningful collaborations, HPLP initiates litigation to benefit both the individual clients as well as the affected population as a whole. For example, HPLP has prosecuted lawsuits against hospitals that are dumping homeless patients on Skid Row. These legal actions have forced hospitals to change their admissions and discharge practices specifically to address the needs of the homeless. Find out more on our main site in the "News" section.