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Homeless Persons Representation Project opens Montgomery County office

‘Given the incredible numbers of people experiencing homelessness, having one legal clinic was insufficient to meet the need,’ Antonia Fasanelli, executive director of the Homeless Persons Representation Project, about the organization’s opening a satellite office in Rockville. (File photo)

‘Given the incredible numbers of people experiencing homelessness, having one legal clinic was insufficient to meet the need,’ Antonia Fasanelli, executive director of the Homeless Persons Representation Project, about the organization’s opening a satellite office in Rockville. (File photo)

After having running a clinic out of a soup kitchen in Montgomery County for 30 years, the Homeless Persons Representation Project is expanding its presence with its first satellite office in the county.

Upon seeing the county’s response to the problem by way of programs for homeless veterans and efforts to address chronic homelessness, the HPRP opened an office in Rockville to provide free civil legal services to people who are homeless in both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

“In order to support those efforts we needed to grow our presence in the county,” said Antonia Fasanelli, executive director of the HPRP, which is based in Baltimore.

Having a satellite office in the county will also help the HPRP participate in policy advocacy at the county level and offer more case intake sights, Fasanelli said.

“Given the incredible numbers of people experiencing homelessness, having one legal clinic was insufficient to meet the need,” she said.

HPRP opened its satellite office in April, but is officially celebrating its expansion on Wednesday.

Despite being known for its affluence, Montgomery County has the second largest homeless population in the state, largely caused by the high cost of housing in the county. There are some 900 homeless people in Montgomery County and 520 homeless people in Prince George’s County, according to a Point-In-Time Count from earlier this year.

Miles & Stockbridge PC donated the new office space in its Rockville location. The firm has had a long-running relationship with HPRP as several firm attorneys have volunteered in its pro bono program and chaired its corporate fundraising campaign, Fasanelli said.

“They have been gracious and generous hosts and we’re so grateful,” she said.

The Miles & Stockbridge office spans 10,000 square feet in an office building on Washington Street. HPRP has access to firm resources including phones and printers.

“I looked at it as a great opportunity. When someone gives you a chance to do good, you really want to jump at it,” said Matthew J. Pavlides, managing principal at Miles & Stockbridge’s Rockville office.

Having a satellite office will also allow HPRP to be better connected to government services and other service providers in the country, said Emily Vaias, an attorney with Ballard Spahr LLP and a volunteer with HPRP for 25 years.

“HPRP is very active in Baltimore and that’s what we hope for here as well,” Vaias said. “There are lots of great organizations in Montgomery County that help the homeless and we see ourselves as folding into that network.”

A year from now, the organization hopes to expand the office’s work by serving the increasing numbers of unaccompanied homeless youth, Fasanelli said.


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