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VIP promotes equal justice for the poor by providing civil legal services not otherwise available, collaborating with other legal services organizations and promoting a culture of volunteerism by educating and exposing attorneys and law students to issues of poverty.
- Founded in 1981, Philadelphia VIP provides legal services for low-income residents and families facing civil legal problems that threaten their basic human needs - shelter, employment, financial stability, education and health.
- Through its volunteers and staff, VIP serves more than 1,000 individuals and families yearly who could not otherwise afford attorneys and whose cases could or would not be handled by other public interest organizations.
- Our clients are among the poorest in the City and region and their numbers are growing. To be eligible for our services, a client's income must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. Thus, our most financially secure clients earn $19,600 while a family of 4 lives on $40,000.
- VIP serves a multi-lingual population, principally Spanish speaking, but increasingly we see clients who speak Russian, Creole (Haitians), Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodian, a reflection of growing and changing immigration patterns in the Greater Philadelphia area.
- VIP handles any civil matter that is non-fee generating and for which there is no right to counsel. Our caseload includes: child support, employment/wage claims, tax issues, disability, landlord/tenant appeals, public housing evictions, probate, tangled title, consumer debt, litigation defense, child custody, adoption/guardianship, special education and school discipline, name change and immigration issues.
- The majority of VIP's cases are referred to us from our sister organizations, Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance; an additional number come from specialized legal services organizations throughout Philadelphia.
- In stark terms, VIP is the agency of last resort for many low-income individuals and families who face critical legal problems that affect their basic needs.
- Elaine Petrossian
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