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  • A combination of high-impact litigation led by CLS and systemic advocacy with statewide partners led to the prevention of devastating health benefits cuts for 1.1 million adult Medicaid recipients in PA and to Medicaid being fully expanded in our state, helping an estimated 600,000 people become eligible for affordable health insurance.
  • CLS, PHMC, and Clarifi formed a medical-legal partnership
  • After years of advocacy by CLS and our partners the SNAP asset test was eliminated in PA. Now, our clients and thousands of other families do not have to choose between food and other basic necessities.
  • CLS released a report on the nursing home crisis in Pennsylvania, leading to stronger enforcements against nursing homes.
  • After CLS joined national class action litigation against HUD, 12,000 surviving spouses may now be eligible to remain in their homes.
  • Philadelphia City Council passed bills in support of water affordability, notice of rent increases, ban the box amendments, and stronger enforcement against wage theft.
  • Commonwealth Court declared lifetime bans on employment unconstitutional.
  • We worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry so the agency could obtain $745,000 in payment for 1,300 direct care workers who had been laid off and did not receive their final paychecks. 
  • CLS obtained four settlements of class actions brought by background screeners under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, addressing issues such as providing criminal cases brought against someone else, reporting of expunged cases, reporting of arrests more than seven years old, and inappropriately labeling retail workers as thieves.  The leading retail theft database was shut down as a result of our litigation.
  • We successfully championed energy affordability initiatives so consumers can have access to hot water, electricity, and home heat. These initiatives include a redesigned PECO customer assistance program (CAP) to promote energy affordability for thousands of low-income consumers, and the preservation of medical certification rights so that customers who need utility service for health reasons can avoid loss of necessary service. 


  • The Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force was created.
  • City of Philadelphia and First Judicial District ended counterproductive attempts to collect old bail judgments.
  • CLS broke down employment barriers for thousands of people with criminal records.
  • CLS advocated at the state and federal level on behalf of Pennsylvanians in need of health care. Advocacy has successfully led to the preservation of the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) program, which provides Medicaid benefits to approximately 36,000 significantly disabled working Pennsylvanians.
  • Convinced the Commonwealth Court to stop implementation of a PA Public Utility Commission Order that would have allowed competitive electricity suppliers to target low-income customers enrolled in PECO’s subsidized CAP Rate program.
  • CLS recommended that Pennsylvania continue its “Heat and Eat” program to prevent significant reductions in monthly food stamp benefits to thousands of low-income households, including many elderly and disabled individuals.  A federal law change had threatened “heat and eat,” but CLS advocacy was successful in preserving the program.
  • Worked with Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS) to launch a pilot program that allows parents incarcerated at PPS to be video-conferenced into all meetings regarding their children. Continued statewide advocacy aimed at improving the engagement of incarcerated parents in their child welfare cases.
  • We worked with DPW after we received many referrals of elderly and disabled clients whose Medicaid in-home long term care services had been erroneously terminated, in part because renewals were either not being processed on time or were being processed incorrectly.  A number of these clients were in their late 80s or 90s, and were left with no aide to help them with basic needs like dressing and preparing food.  As a result of our advocacy, DPW agreed to increase staffing and put protections in place to ensure that appeals are timely processed and benefits continued.


  • Johnson v. Bullock-Freeman – CLS successfully argued as Amicus Curiae and obtained a Superior Court decision which reversed the lower courts and held that a tenant can “pay and stay” in possession by paying the court judgment and costs.  The lower courts had held that a tenant had to also pay additional rent that became due.
  • Community Legal Services opens North Philadelphia Law Center.
  • Nutritious meals won for for PA children in child care.
  • Pennsylvania provides funds to solve unemployment compensation system problems.
  • Philadelphia creates new Owner Occupied Payment Agreement program for delinquent property taxes.
  • After advocacy by and with technical assistance from CLS and other community organizations, the Philadelphia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners adopted a strong language access policy in November 2013.  Under the policy, PHA will begin routinely identifying the need for and providing appropriate language services in the form of bilingual staff, interpretation, and translated documents to ensure effective communication with limited English proficient applicants, residents and housing voucher holders. 


  • After 4 years of advocacy, CLS along with TURN and the Pennsylvania Housing Alliance, were successful in the passage of S.887, the Tenant Property Disposition bill, which only allows a landlord to enter a tenant’s unit to take control of their property when the tenant has been evicted through the judicial process or they have notified the landlord in writing that they have vacated the property.  The law sets up a procedure for the landlord to notify the tenant and how the tenant can retrieve property left in the unit.
  • CLS, along with PUP, successfully advocated for the restoration of the HEMAP program.  The legislature had failed to adequately fund the program for the past fiscal year and we were able to obtain monies for HEMAP for the next five years from the settlement of the case brought by the state Attorney General against five large mortgage servicers.
  • CLS advocacy, with PUP and other groups preserved the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program in Philadelphia after it was announced by the Common Pleas Court that the time periods for the program would be severely limited.  This would have made resolution of the cases very difficult.  The Court rescinded the proposal.
  • McDowell v. PHA – After almost 10 years of litigation regarding the failure to raise utility allowances in public housing units when gas rates increased, we successfully settled the case.  PHA will establish a settlement fund of $ 2,650,000 to pay damages to the tenants and CLS will receive $ 730,000 in attorneys fees.  
  • Simmons v. HUD – successful settlement in CLS litigation regarding the foreclosure of an elderly HUD subsidized development in Germantown.  As part of the HUD foreclosure, HUD ended the rental subsidies on the buildings.  The settlement agreement provides that the development will be project-based vouchers and the rental subsidies will continue for at least 15 years.
  • CLS and Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP successfully negotiated opportunity to get Medicaid reinstated for 100,000 people who lost Medical Assistance when paperwork was lost or incorrectly processed by the Department of Public Welfare.


  • Apartment Association of Greater Philadelphia v. City of Philadelphia representing TURN.  CLS successfully obtained a consent order which reinstated the Rent Suitability Certification Program.  The City had earlier unilaterally agreed to suspend the program which had required landlords, prior to entering into a lease, to obtain a certification from L & I that there are no property maintenance code violations on the property, state that the property is free from defects, and maintain the property in the future.
  • CLS, working with TURN, was instrumental in the passage of an ordinance which protects the rights of tenants who are victims of domestic violence.  It prohibits the termination of a lease because a tenant was in an incident where the tenant was a victim of domestic violence.  It also allows a victim of domestic violence to terminate the lease early and allows the tenant to request that the landlord bifurcate the lease and evict the abuser.
  • CLS, working with TURN and PCCY, successfully advocated for the passage of the Lead Safe Certification Ordinance which requires a landlord, prior to leasing a residential property where children 6 and under will reside, to obtain a certification from a certified lead inspector that lead dust wipes and visual inspection revealed no lead hazards in the property.  During the period of time a landlord fails to provide a certification, the landlord is denied the right to collect rent.


  • After more than a decade of work by CLS, the Women's Law Project, and the Community Justice Project, DPW adopts regulations protecting survivors of domestic violence who need help from the welfare system.
  • CLS advocacy leads to a ban on the shackling of pregnant incarcerated women in Pennsylvania's county jails and correctional facilities.
  • CLS helps create the "Heat and Eat" plan to increase food stamp benefits for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians while streamlining paperwork.
  • CLS is instrumental in creating the Emergency Homeowners Loan Program. Pennsylvania gets over $100 million to assist homeowners facing foreclosure due to unemployment, underemployment or medical problems.
  • Garcia v. Sebelius, settlement of federal class action results in faster exchange of data between DPW and the federal government, speeding up access to Medicare for tens of thousands of low-income disabled and elderly individuals.
  • CLS advocacy creates "Way to Work Pennsylvania," a six-month subsidized jobs program that provides work for 28,000 adults and youth statewide.


  • After years of CLS advocacy, Pennsylvania mortgage regulations require brokers and lenders to document that a borrower has the ability to pay any offered mortgage loans.
  • CLS advocacy results in $7 million over four years in utility assistance for low-income clients, with an additional $27.6 million in energy efficiency and conservation assistance through 2012.


  • CLS advocacy in Harrisburg removes asset test requirement for Food Stamp eligibility, allowing more low-income people to receive Food Stamps.
  • The Office of Long Term Living (OLTL) released an Aging Program Directive (APD) directing that individuals with intermediate level care needs qualify for Waiver services as a result of advocacy by CLS and the Pennsylvania Health Law Project. This APD reverses earlier policy which had limited eligibility to those who needed care at the higher "skilled" level.
  • CLS successfully advocates for child support legislation proposed by the Rendell Administration and enacted by the state legislature. Act 16 keeps child support dollars in Pennsylvania, instead of sending them to Washington, and gets them to families rather than giving them to the government. It also encourages non-custodial parents to pay support, because they will know that the money will directly benefit their children.
  • Kaplan v. Chertoff, CLS successfully negotiates partial solution for case challenging the denial of SSI for refugees, asylees and other humanitarian immigrants who have been unable to naturalize within the allotted seven years due to delay in processing applications for citizenship. Settlement allows expediting of such cases to prevent loss of benefits.
  • CLS was instrumental in the creation of DHS’s Policy and Procedure for Effective Communication with Deaf or Hard of Hearing Clients. CLS, in partnership with advocates from the deaf and hard of hearing community in Philadelphia, the Department of Human Services, City Law Department and other stakeholders collaboratively drafted this much needed protocol to improve access and outcomes for vulnerable children and families who are deaf or hard of hearing and interact with DHS and their contracted provider agencies.


  • Erb v. McClellan, CLS successfully negotiates resolution to involuntary assignment of 110,000 Medicare beneficiaries to HMOs as part of the implementation of Part D (covering prescription drugs). Resolution allows greater time and information for beneficiaries to make informed choices.
  • CLS advocated on improving the Inclusionary Housing bill introduced in City Council. The bill would require developers of new residential construction in the City to set aside 10 % (15 % if built off site) of the units as affordable housing units.
  • CLS and the Tenant Union Representative Network (TURN) are successful in getting passed into City of Philadelphia law the Rent Suitability Certificate Ordinance. The Ordinance requires that a landlord, prior to renting a residential property, obtain a certificate stating that there are no recorded code violations on the property, attest that the property is free from defects, and maintain the property in the future.
  • The Senate Committee on Children and Youth voted out of committee a bill that would amend the Older Adults Protective Services Act (OAPSA), the nursing home statute that CLS successfully challenged in the Nixon litigation. CLS efforts stalled the bill, which would have exacerbated problems with OAPSA by causing long-term employees to lose jobs because of very old criminal convictions.
  • CLS executes on King v. Rubin judgment. CLS entered into a series of settlement agreements to recover funds from the defendants and the Pennsylvania Real Estate Recovery Fund to provide money class members.


  • CLS advocacy helps avoid cuts to AdultBasic, the low-cost program for uninsured individuals and families whose income was just high enough to disqualify them for no-cost health insurance AdultBasic was instead allocated an additional $17 million.


  • CLS works to craft a replacement statute for OAPSA which achieves a fair balance of the interests of the security of vulnerable adults and the rights of the caregivers to earn a living.


  • Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell signs Act 44 as a result of CLS advocacy, lifting a lifetime ban on benefits for persons with felony drug convictions.
  •  Nixon v. Commonwealth, Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules the Older Adults Protective Services Act (OAPSA) unconstitutional, lifting a statute that barred thousands of ex-offenders from working in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.


  • The Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issues a Letter of Findings, as a result of complaints filed by CLS under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI). This Letter set out language access requirements that DPW must meet in order to come into compliance with Title VI.

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