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VIP in Action Published June 5, 2020

A Statement of Support

Over the past week, our nation has once again witnessed the cumulative impact of centuries of trauma, oppression, and racial violence. Philadelphia VIP stands in solidarity with those protesting against police brutality and all manifestations of systemic racism and joins our community in grief, outrage, and a desire to do more. As we reflect on the systems that perpetuate these injustices, we want to emphasize this truth:

Black Lives Matter.

Our daily work focuses on fighting poverty–a systemic injustice that impacts Black Philadelphians twice as often as their white neighbors. The clients who turn to us for help have little recourse against a system that routinely denies access to fundamental human needs and economic disparity that makes them particularly vulnerable to threats to housing, family stability, and income. While 87% of our clients identify as people of color, Black Philadelphians comprise over 60% of our client pool.

As we witness the expressions of deep-rooted anguish and anger here in our city, many of you have reached out to ask how you can take action. We urge you to make a commitment to systemic change–lift up your neighbors and help them access economic stability.

In Philadelphia, we are the legal services agency of last resort: for our clients, a volunteer attorney is often the only answer in their search for access to justice. Our volunteers serve tenants facing eviction after months in a home in substandard condition, small business owners struggling to keep their life’s dreams afloat in the face of an historic health and human crisis, Philadelphians striving to hold on to their family homes as their loved ones pass, workers confronting debt collectors charging exorbitant fees, homeowners who want to plan for their family’s futures by passing their homes to their loved ones, and parents seeking to provide their children with stability.

VIP is the last stop on our clients’ journey for legal help, and each of you has the power to give them a voice in a justice system that they could not otherwise access.

Whether you earned your law degree a year ago or several decades in the past, whether you practice corporate law or complex litigation, your fellow Philadelphians need you. Volunteering to represent a VIP client can transform your outrage and passion into action and impact.

Our staff is ready to support you. Join us in working toward a just and equitable Philadelphia.

Rida Haq
Interim Executive Director
Kelly Gastley
Managing Attorney
Alex Braden
Board President