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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.

L.A. Tenants UnionToday, three tenants associations from two locals led their fellow tenant unionists in a march. We marched to a fourth building managed by the same predatory management company to let tenants there know that they can fight and stay. In Northeast LA and in Koreatown, K3 Management has been harassing and intimidating their long-time tenants in an attempt to force them out of their homes so that they can jack up the rents and "re-tenant" the units with a wealthier crowd. These tenants have joined @latuvybe and @nelo.latenantsunion. United with their neighbors and with members of the union from across the city, the tenants are saying "no" to illegal cash-for-keys offers—as Alma from the Ave 55 Tenants Association said to her building manager, "if one of us here is going to have to leave, it's not going to be me." 🔥 ...

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Kate made a single complaint to management and was slapped with a retaliatory eviction. She has been living in her home, with her immunocompromised son, for 9 years. Confronted Charles Rueter Inc property management and gave our demands ✊ #noevictions #goodcause ...

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Crown Heights Tenant UnionThe fighters of Prospect Pl., CHTU, and Brooklyn Eviction Defense [BED] just turned back an illegal eviction at 855 Prospect. Our fellow-tenant Tiffany is back in her apartment and the eviction goons are gone. When we fight, we win. #EvictionFreeNY #CancelRent #RentStrike ...

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While all eyes are on the election, word is that city council is going to quietly push through, w/o even going to a vote, NOT to extend the eviction moratorium - given it was so unpopular in committee. Payment plans/mediation and late fees extended will go to vote.

This is a criminal gesture given how many more lives are at stake as we enter the third wave of the pandemic.
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STATEMENT ON PROPOSED CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF AN EVICTION MORATORIUM