In Council News, Jamie Gauthier, Kendra Brooks, News, Nicolas O'Rourke, Rue Landau by Jamie Gauthier

PHILADELPHIA – Today, progressives in City Council celebrated the passage of a bill to make the Eviction Diversion Program permanent in Philadelphia. The program, hailed as a national model for keeping people in their homes, connects landlords and tenants to mediation and financial support before an eviction is filed in court.

Minority Leader Kendra Brooks and Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, who launched the initiative in 2020 with former Councilmember Helen Gym, touted the program’s successes over the past several years. The program is credited with preventing ten thousand evictions a year. Because of the program, nearly half of landlord-tenant pairs are able to resolve their issues outside of court, avoiding costly legal fees and life-altering eviction filings.

“Nearly four years ago, our City made a historic stride in eliminating evictions and making the eviction process more fair to renters and small landlords,” said Minority Leader Kendra Brooks (At-Large). “Even as evictions started rising dramatically in other cities after the pandemic, we were able to keep Philadelphia’s eviction rate comparatively low. This program has become a national model, and by making it permanent, we are not only keeping thousands of people in their homes here in Philadelphia but also setting a standard for housing justice that other cities will follow.”

“Thank you to my Council colleagues for voting to make our Eviction Diversion Program permanent,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), who co-introduced this bill and chairs City Council’s housing committee. “The Eviction Diversion Program is a win for tenants, a win for landlords, a win for the courts, and a win for our city. As we grapple with extreme housing insecurity, we need the Eviction Diversion Program to help us keep families in their homes.”

Especially when it is coupled with rental assistance, the Eviction Diversion Program is one of Philadelphia’s most effective anti-displacement programs ever. The Eviction Diversion Program should also be considered a racial justice initiative. An overwhelming majority of tenants who face eviction are single Black mothers.

“The Eviction Diversion Program is proof that we can learn from COVID instead of trying to keep it in the rearview mirror,” said Minority Whip Nicolas O’Rourke (At-Large). “The ’emergency measures’ that led to an influx of social support during the pandemic set an example for what’s possible, and we need to keep that front of mind when working to build a more equitable Philadelphia.”

“The funds allocated for the Targeted Financial Assistance initiative are essential to keeping working Philadelphians in their homes and stabilizing the most vulnerable communities,” said Councilmember Rue Landau (At-Large). “The economic effects of the pandemic are still being felt by too many people across this city, and tenants are still in need of relief. This rental assistance is a piece of the puzzle that has successfully helped Philadelphians obtain security and dignity to continue living in their own homes.”\

Bill No. 240245 was co-introduced by Councilmembers Brooks, Gauthier, O’Rourke and Landau in April. It was co-sponsored by Majority Whip Thomas, Deputy Majority Whip Bass, Councilmember Ahmad, Councilmember Jones, Councilmember Lozada, Councilmember Harrity, Councilmember Driscoll, and Councilmember Squilla.\


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