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March 13, 2020

COVID-19 Anti-Eviction Measures

Statement on Proposed City Council Resolution in Support of an Eviction Moratorium

Tell City Council to Halt All Evictions During the Covid-19 Pandemic

We fully support the resolution introduced on March 12th by Councilmember Gym calling for a moratorium on evictions. While our organizations support the entirety of the resolution, we as tenant advocates want to highlight the importance of an eviction moratorium. Our country’s lack of a social safety net has been laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic, as the most vulnerable citizens will face the greatest consequences. Workers who rely on hourly wages, part-time jobs, and the gig economy face the real risk that their income will dry up. The lack of paid sick or family leave in many places outside of Philadelphia will force people to risk their health and physically go to jobs they cannot do remotely. Parents will scramble to find child care options when their children’s schools are shut down; and children who rely on schools for food will not receive it. All while millions of these same families lack access to healthcare, which should be a basic right.

To ease the burden on the most vulnerable families, the City of Philadelphia should use every tool at its disposal during this crisis to ensure that all Philadelphians are secure in their homes. Making sure that people are safe and comfortable at home is one of the most effective ways to protect the health and economic well-being of our neighbors. A moratorium on evictions will help by allowing the most vulnerable families to weather this crisis as best they can and resume their jobs, education, and social life after the outbreak has ended.

Moreover, forcing people to attend hearings in Philadelphia’s eviction court would endanger the health of tenants, landlords, court staff, and attorneys. Each morning, dozens, if not hundreds, of people from across Philadelphia are tightly packed together in a small courtroom as the list of eviction cases is read. There is no way to practice “social distancing” when every seat in the courtroom is full. Tenants have no option but to appear in court, or else risk losing their homes. Seniors, persons with disabilities, and immunocompromised Penn Law National Lawyer’s Guild citizens, all of whom are already among the most vulnerable Philadelphians, would be forced to choose between exercising their due process rights to defend critical housing, and risking illness or even death at a rate many times higher than the general population.

Similarly, a spike of coronavirus-related evictions would overwhelm the City’s emergency housing providers. And overcrowded shelters or emergency housing centers would present a nightmare for public health officials attempting to stop the spread of this pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak will exact an enormous financial, emotional, and physical toll on many families throughout Philadelphia. But, the City can blunt the impact by ensuring its citizens enjoy housing security during this time.

We urge City Council to adopt Councilmember Gym’s resolution and ask that the First Judicial District, the Sheriff’s Office, and Landlord-Tenant Officer take immediate action to suspend eviction court hearings and halt any scheduled evictions.

Signatories

The Public Interest Law Center

Community Legal Services

Senior Law Center

AIDS Law Project

Legal Help Center

Philadelphia Rent Control Coalition

HELP: MLP at Philadelphia Nurse-Family Partnership

TURN

Legal Clinic for the Disabled

Philadelphia Tenants Union

Philadelphia VIP

Homeless Advocacy Project

Regional Housing Legal Services

Face to Face

The Philadelphia Rent Control Coalition is Philly Tenants Union, Lilac, Philly Socialists, Reclaim Philadelphia, Tenant Union Representative Network, Penn Law National Lawyers’ Guild, Community Legal Services, OnePA, Socialist Alternative Philadelphia, and Neighborhood Networks.

yes.Twitter thread by Fangmeli (@pangmeli)
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“landlords are the only investors I've encountered who expect their investment revenue to remain constant & level no matter what the market forces are

I don't get it. rental income is very simple and straightforward in terms of investment risk: you get a substantive cut of someone's employment income, so if their employment is hit, your investment is hit. yet here we have all these landlords with the shocked pikachu face

I think even moreso than being shocked by the prospect of tenants defaulting on rent, landlords are shocked by the prospect that if their tenants default on the rent, they could be morally or legally compelled to shelter them anyway. they're shocked by the backflow of entitlement

there's a real cognitive discrepancy in thinking tenants can and should somehow be compelled to cover your mortgage payments, irrespective of their material realities. like morality aside — surely you can see that the food chain only works if your prey are also fed?

I think this landlord (who is commenting unironically about a prospective rent strike) expresses the underlying crux of this mentality perfectly: landlords shouldn't be 'screwed equally'. if renters are screwed, it's only 'fair' if landlords somehow get to be less screwed.

[insert pic of text saying: I agree re people needing to have their basic needs met. And yes, I’m not here to argue either. It just needs to be fair, but not “let’s screw everyone equally”]

I realize I'm basically circling around @nanpansky's observation — people can debate the morality of a rent strike all they want, but for many renters it isn't a choice, it's an outcome. if people can't make rent, the outcome is that they won't make rent.

[quote tweet by @nanpansky saying: most people will not have any capacity to make any money for the next 2-6 months so the rent strike will just happen, it doesnt have to be like, organized or anything]

it feels insane to have to assert that people can't afford what they can't afford, but landlord logic is that while a landlord's "can't" (can't afford my mortgage without rental income) is immutable, a tenant's "can't" (can't afford rent without a job) can be willed into a "can"

if you're a landlord who needs rental income, you can keep repeating 'but you promised! but you owe me! but the bank!' as though it's an incantation that will give tenants their jobs back — or you can try to improve their material reality by agitating for universal basic income

to be clear, what landlords are really protesting isn't your potential inability to pay rent — it's their potential inability to evict you. landlords are indignant because they thought they'd get all the perks of investing in a vital resource and none of the moral imperatives”

twitter.com/pangmeli/status/1242141344438550529?s=21
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STATEMENT ON PROPOSED CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF AN EVICTION MORATORIUM