Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Community Legal Services Announce Partnership to Offer Legal Support

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Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Community Legal Services, Inc. (CLS) today announced a partnership to offer legal support to West and Southwest Philadelphia families facing eviction. CHOP’s Healthier Together Initiative, which addresses the social determinants of health, will support CLS to provide legal representation to families as Philadelphia’s temporary ban on evictions is set to expire, and the national moratorium on evictions issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention covers only a fraction of Philadelphia renters.

“Eviction is a traumatic event that can have long-term impacts on families, including poverty, homelessness, adverse mental and physical health outcomes, and negative impacts on school achievement,” said Peter Grollman, Senior Vice President of External Affairs at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic hardship for many families, making it difficult or impossible for them to make timely rent payments. The threat of eviction will become real for many Philadelphia families, and many will need legal help to access the CDC protection against eviction for nonpayment of rent, making this partnership so very important.”

In order to raise awareness of these free legal services to the community, representatives from CLS will attend West and Southwest Philadelphia community meetings to educate the community on tenant rights and explain the legal representation CLS is able to provide.

This new work builds upon and complements the Family Justice Partnership (FJP), a medical-legal partnership between CHOP and CLS that has been housed at CHOP’s Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pediatric Care Center since 2018. As legal advocates working closely with healthcare teams, CLS attorneys within the FJP team provide no-cost legal representation to CHOP patients and families to address a number of legal issues that impact health, such as lack of heat and food insecurity. This partnership also complements CHOP and Healthier Together’s commitment to create healthier homes through the Community Asthma Prevention Program Plus (CAPP+), an initiative that addresses the impact of unhealthy housing on pediatric asthma outcomes through home repairs to remove the source of asthma triggers.

This new partnership between CHOP and CLS, which is dedicated to eviction prevention and housing stability, will reach beyond the four walls of CHOP and into the broader community, making help available to all families in West and Southwest Philadelphia, regardless of whether or not they are CHOP patients.

“Fewer than 10 percent of renters have legal representation in eviction court, but when they do, they experience favorable outcomes 95 percent of the time,” said Debby Freedman, Executive Director of CLS. “This initiative will help families in West Philadelphia who otherwise would not know about or have access to these services.”

“Philadelphia has the fourth highest eviction rate in the country, and the issue is particularly acute in our West Philadelphia neighborhoods, where evictions disproportionally affect households headed by Black women,” said Philadelphia City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier. “Evictions can disrupt the fabric and cohesion of neighborhoods and social connections, destabilizing communities that are already challenged by these difficult times. That’s why I’m so grateful that CHOP and CLS are spearheading this initiative, which will go a long way towards providing stability for children and families in my district.”

CHOP launched Healthier Together in 2019 to address the social determinants of health, and the initiative partners with community groups to support four pillars of community focus: housing, trauma, hunger, and poverty. To date, Healthier Together has launched several programs in an effort to address these nonmedical factors that impact health, including a home repair program for asthma patients and projects that address trauma in the community.

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