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The past week has been a catastrophe for Philadelphia and the world at large. Twin global crises — the coronavirus pandemic and a major economic crash — have arrived with breakneck speed, and threaten to hit our most vulnerable neighbors hardest. These new developments promise to intensify and exacerbate the already-existing economic, public health, and tenants’ rights crises that have plagued working-class people in this city for decades.
While the future is far from certain anywhere, we can expect particularly severe effects in Philly, where a full 25% of residents lived below the poverty line before these new crises began, and which has long had a considerably higher unemployment rate than the national average, which the Fed expects will soon hit as high as 30%.
While the local, national, and global situation is changing daily in complex and confusing ways, at least one thing is glaringly simple: If we can’t work, we can’t pay rent.
The emergency measures taken by the city so far (including a mere two-week halt in evictions and utility shut-offs) have been woefully inadequate. Experts predict the current disruptions to daily life will last months, not weeks. Much bolder action is required to meet the needs of working-class Philadelphians, now. We don’t have time to wait.
In light of the urgency and severity of this crisis, the Philadelphia Tenants Union demands:
- A total moratorium on rent payments for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. All rent payments will be halted, all missed rent since the beginning of the pandemic forgiven. When the pandemic is over, no tenant in Philadelphia should be expected to pay back a single cent in back rent.
- An extension of the moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs, as well as the closure of Eviction Court for the duration of the pandemic.
- A moratorium on foreclosures and residential tax liens for the duration of the pandemic.
We call on Mayor Kenney and City Council to do everything in their power to pass these necessary, reasonable, and life-saving measures.
In the meantime, we urge landlords — who have had their mortgage payments suspended by the state — to do what’s right and suspend rent collection, and we urge tenants to organize with their neighbors and join the Tenants Union to demand what they need. Housing is a human right, and it belongs to those who live in it, not those who happen to profit from it. Any landlord attempting to cruelly remove tenants from their homes during this pandemic can expect resistance — and any tenant fighting back can expect support — from the Philadelphia Tenants Union.
MAKE CALLS AND SEND EMAILS to our legislators to demand a city wide rent moratorium.
Three calls to make:
- Mayor Jim Kenney:
- (215) 686-2181
- Your district council member:
- Find your district and council member here
- One of the council members at large:
- Kendra Brooks: (215) 686-0461 or (215) 686-0462
- Allan Domb: (215) 686-3414 or (215) 686-3415
- Derek Green: (215) 686-3450 or (215) 686-3451
- Katherine Gilmore Richardson: (215) 686-0454 or (215) 686-0455
- Helen Gym: (215) 686-3420 or (215) 686-3421
- David Oh: (215) 686-3452 or (215) 686-3453
- Isaiah Thomas: (215) 686-3446 or (215) 686-3447
Call / email script:
Hello, this is __________. I am calling as a local resident and voter to ask you to take immediate and necessary action to address the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Working class people in Philly need the city to:
- Impose a moratorium on rent payments for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Extend the moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs for the duration of the pandemic, impose a moratorium on foreclosures and residential tax liens, and
- Extend the closure of eviction court. No new cases should be heard for the duration of the crisis.
This is a vital matter that is affecting many of your constituents and supporters. The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis of life-and-death urgency, and the danger grows with every passing day. We cannot wait on these necessary, reasonable, and life-saving measures.
Thank you for listening.