PHILADELPHIA – Today, City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) is announcing that she received unanimous support from her City Council colleagues for her #JustServicesPHL Fiscal Year 2024 budget amendment. She and her 13 colleagues sent a letter to Council President Darrell Clarke (5th District) formally asking him to advocate for just under $72 million to improve city services during budget negotiations with the Kenney Administration.
“Thank you to my City Council colleagues for recognizing the importance of improving city services,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District). “City Council stands united on this issue because we recognize every neighborhood deserves dependable municipal services and that for too long, many communities across Philadelphia have not received their fair share. Budgets send a message of our priorities, and this $72 million amendment proves to residents that we consider the life-saving city services they need to live on a safe, green, and clean block a worthy investment!”
In the Fiscal Year 2023 City budget, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier championed a $30 million investment in basic city services. However, as the letter Councilmember Gauthier and her colleagues sent to Council President Clarke states, “We know a lot more work remains to make every neighborhood clean and safe, and to maximize the lifesaving potential of high-quality city services. That is why we are bringing #JustServicesPHL back for the FY24 budget.”
The $72 million proposal would empower the City to take urgent, realistic, and concrete steps in the next fiscal year to bring relief to underserved communities. This includes:
- Hiring six additional illegal dumping sanitation crews to ensure each sanitation district has its own crew
- Installing permanent speed cushions around child-focused facilities
- Expanding the Neighborhood Slow Zone Program
- Improving traffic safety along the High Injury Network
- Improving Code Enforcement and Building Inspector retention by increasing salaries and providing inspectors with City vehicles
- Hiring 20 additional Code Enforcement and Building Inspectors
- Cleaning, greening, and securing privately and publicly owned vacant lots
- Funding Mural Arts’ community beautification efforts and same day work program
- Expanding the Law Department’s Code Enforcement and Litigation Units to improve the City’s capacity to take action against chronic short dumpers
- Quickly moving unhoused residents from shelters into permanent housing
- Funding the Street to Home Program
- Funding anti-displacement efforts to keep vulnerable families in their homes
“When we invest in the basic things that make people feel safe – clean streets, working lights, well-maintained buildings – we allow neighborhoods to thrive,” said Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large). “When a neighborhood is clean and bright, parents feel comfortable sending their children out to play. Grandparents feel comfortable sitting out on their porches and keeping an eye on the neighborhood. People feel comfortable walking to the store or waiting for the bus, even if it’s early in the morning or past sundown. And when people are out and about, that neighborhood feels even safer and more vibrant. It is a virtuous cycle that starts with Just Services PHL in our neighborhoods.”
Beyond aesthetics, the quality-of-life issues city services address are an urgent matter of public health and safety. Uncollected trash attracts vermin, which carry diseases. Nuisance businesses and blighted properties and lots attract and breed crime. Dangerous roads cause traffic injuries and deaths. At the same time, studies prove place-based interventions like cleaning and greening reduce gun violence by 29% in the immediate area and that each dollar invested in beautification saves $333 later.
Data from the City’s 311 system, compiled and analyzed by the Office of the City Controller, bears this out. While a small percentage of quality-of-life calls comes from Center City, the vast majority comes from other neighborhoods, suggesting that the needs of disadvantaged neighborhoods aren’t being addressed appropriately.
It is impossible for Philadelphians in underserved neighborhoods to ignore the conditions they are contending with. Research suggests that people in these communities internalize the feelings of neglect created by poor conditions, which in turn leads to all manner of negative mental and physical health outcomes. Through #JustServicesPHL, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier asserts that it is unacceptable that the needs of wealthier, whiter neighborhoods tend to get prioritized over those of poorer, Blacker ones.
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