PHILADELPHIA— November 3, 2016 – Following an investigative report revealing widespread lead poisoning and significant rates of unlicensed rentals in Philadelphia, City Council has authorized hearings to examine the impact of eviction and substandard housing on the health and well-being of low-income renters. Among the issues Council will examine are the continued threats posed by lead, mold, and electrical hazards, as well as growing housing cost burdens on Philadelphia renters. Additionally, Council will examine the potential for supporting a right to counsel for low-income renters in landlord-tenant disputes such as eviction proceedings. New York City has already made major commitments to expand access to legal assistance for tenants and a similar proposal is currently under consideration in Washington, D.C.
“Access to safe, affordable, and quality housing is a human right. And yet, thousands of Philadelphia families each year face displacement from their homes or are subjected to uninhabitable living conditions. Philadelphia can and must work to ensure that all our residents, especially those who are low-income, have access to housing that meets our City Code,” said Councilmember Helen Gym (At Large), who introduced the resolution calling for the hearings. “We must also work to safeguard the rights of tenants to challenge substandard housing and defend themselves in landlord-tenant disputes.”
A copy of the resolution is attached to this email. Its cosponsors are: María Quiñones-Sánchez (7th District), Cindy Bass (8th District), Jannie Blackwell (3rd District), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), Bobby Henon (6th District), and Derek Green (At Large).
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Helen Gym was sworn in as an At-Large Member of Council 2016. Her primary concerns include addressing widespread poverty in Philadelphia, particularly through an emphasis on building a quality public education system. For more information, visit phlcouncil.com/HelenGym.