The legislation, named for the woman who was shot in the head last year by an armed subcontractor, would require a license to conduct evictions in Philadelphia.
PHILADELPHIA – Today, Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large) announced legislation to bring oversight and accountability to Philadelphia’s eviction system, which has been plagued by violence for years. Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Councilmember Nicolas O’Rourke (At-Large), and Councilmember Rue Landau (At-Large) will co-introduce the legislation tomorrow during City Council’s first session of 2024.
With Councilmember Isaiah Thomas (At-Large), Councilmember Mark Squilla (1st District), Councilmember Jeffery Young (5th District), Councilmember Mike Driscoll (6th District), Councilmember Nina Ahmad (At-Large), Councilmember Curtis Jones (4th District), and Councilmember Anthony Phillips (9th District) co-sponsoring, a majority of City Councilmembers support the legislation. In addition to Angel Davis and her lawyer, state-level elected leaders, legal experts, and advocates for vulnerable residents joined in support of the legislation.
“After multiple shootings by these private armed contractors, it’s time for members of Council to step in to protect Philadelphians from a system that is reckless, dangerous, and totally unaccountable to the public,” said Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large). “The Angel Davis Eviction Accountability Bill will bring standards and public accountability to a system that has operated in the shadows for far too long.”
The legislation sets a new standard for private entities conducting evictions in Philadelphia. The bill requires contractors to provide proof of insurance and complete training in firearm safety, crisis intervention, and cultural diversity in order to obtain a license to conduct evictions.
“City Council already mandates licenses for many types of businesses to keep Philadelphians safe,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Chair of City Council’s Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless. “Requiring private contractors who perform evictions to obtain a license from the City of Philadelphia will bring accountability to a public function that operates dangerously and opaquely without oversight. And through its licensing requirements, the Angel Davis Eviction Accountability Bill brings the landlord-tenant officer in line with other entities that conduct lockouts in Pennsylvania.”
Last March, a private armed contractor of Philadelphia’s landlord tenant officer (LTO), shot Angel Davis in the head while trying to evict her from her North Philadelphia home, putting her in critical condition and causing significant permanent brain damage. Within four months, LTO contractors opened fire on a tenant’s dog while serving an eviction in Olney and shot a tenant in front of her child while attempting to evict her in Kensington.
“I want to first off thank God for still being here today, and also the City Council Members and everyone else who has worked continuously to get this bill passed,” said Angel Davis. “Hopefully no one will have to experience the trauma that I have experienced going through the eviction process. Hopefully the laws of eviction will be changed everywhere in the United States starting in Philadelphia.”
In response to the shootings, Councilmembers Brooks and Gauthier held a hearing of City Council’s Housing Committee that exposed widespread concerns with the landlord-tenant office, including persistent violence and a lack of oversight, training, ethics guidelines, and public accountability. Following the hearing, a majority of the members of City Council signed on to a statement calling for greater accountability for evictions in Philadelphia.
“The Angel Davis Eviction Accountability Bill would add a measure of accountability to this process, by requiring private entities that conduct evictions to be officially licensed by the City,” said Councilmember Nicolas O’Rourke (At-Large). “We already have these requirements for club bouncers, masseurs, pawn brokers, and public parking lot attendants. At the bare minimum, this type of licensure should be required for the people who conduct evictions in our City while armed.”
“Philadelphians who are losing their homes through eviction shouldn’t risk losing their lives in the process,” said Councilmember Rue Landau (At-Large). “Philadelphia’s for-profit eviction system has proven to be dangerous to some of our City’s most vulnerable tenants, and this legislation will bring much needed oversight to the process.”
In addition to the Angel Davis Eviction Accountability Bill, lawmakers in both the Pennsylvania State Senate and the Pennsylvania State House have proposed legislation to reform evictions. The proposed legislation earned wide support among Philadelphia elected officials but faces opposition from Republicans in the state legislature.
“Housing is dignity and security, and that standard should be maintained,” said State Senator Sharif Street (3rd Senatorial District). “As we work to remove private entities from the eviction process, it is our collective responsibility to ensure a higher standard is adhered to during that time, one that prioritizes the wellbeing and safety of our communities. I’m proud to support our Councilmembers in this effort”
“With the Angel Davis Eviction Accountability Bill, my colleagues in City Council have acted to move our city away from a for-profit eviction model and toward the realm of public health and public safety, where an act as solemn and severe as the forcible removal of a family from their home should always have been,” said State Senator Nikil Saval (First Senatorial District). “We must work to safeguard the wellbeing of everyone involved in an eviction by mandating accountability. True safety comes only when all parts of our government uphold their responsibilities. I look forward to the work we will do together to build a path from this enormous first step.”
“As I work with colleagues to reform Philadelphia’s eviction process through state law, I’m so grateful to have Councilmembers Brooks, Gauthier, O’Rourke, and Landau working alongside me on the city-level,” said State Representative Krajewski (House District 188). “LTOs are unregulated private actors that have operated unaccountably for decades. It should not take 3 separate shootings for our city to take action. Angel Davis deserves justice, alongside everyone else who has faced a needlessly violent and traumatic eviction in this city. By working hard as a team across levels of government, I believe we will win an eviction process that is truly accountable to the public.”
“This legislation marks a significant stride towards protecting our community members and fostering a system that prioritizes safety and fairness,” said State Representative Morgan Cephas (House District 192), Chair of the Philadelphia House Delegation. “I look forward to collaborating with local partners as we continue work on the state level to move legislation like HB287 to protect our residents.”