Seated in 2016, Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym is a long-time community organizer who leads a human rights agenda rooted in housing, education, and racial and economic justice through municipal policy. She created one of the most successful anti-eviction programs in the country that reduced evictions by two thirds in what was once the 4th highest evicting city in the nation. Her work includes passing a Right to Counsel law which guarantees legal representation to low-income renters, and establishing a tenant legal defense fund, local rent vouchers, and a mandatory pre-filing eviction diversion program.
A former public school teacher and parent organizer, Councilmember Gym helped end a 17 year state takeover of the Philadelphia public schools; and restored nurses, counselors, social workers, clean water and instrumental music to every public school. She led the charge for a $500 million school modernization campaign, including bringing air conditioning to more than two dozen schools, ending lead in drinking water, and remediating lead, asbestos and mold. She’s been at the forefront of labor rights, establishing a permanent City Department of Labor and winning groundbreaking policies like a Fair Workweek law that guarantees stable schedules for hourly workers and a first in the nation right to return law protecting the jobs of thousands of hospitality workers. Additionally, she established a legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation and led statewide reform of residential placement facilities for at-risk youth.
Councilmember Gym is the national co-Chair of Local Progress, a network of 1,300 municipal elected officials, where she leads efforts around immigrant rights and economic justice. She is the first Asian American woman to serve on her City Council body and the first Asian American Democrat elected to citywide office in 50 years.