PHILADELPHIA – Today, joined by West Philadelphia community members, advocates, and elected colleagues, City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) announced her #JustServicesPHL Fiscal Year 2024 budget platform, which calls for immediate major investments to address quality-of-life concerns in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.
“The timely delivery of basic municipal services is the core of a well-run city,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier. “But too often, here in Philadelphia, those services aren’t carried out evenly from neighborhood to neighborhood –and low-income communities of color too often bear the brunt of the harm this causes. Conditions like illegal dumping, nuisance businesses, dangerous driving, and blighted properties are directly correlated with lower property values, stunted commercial growth, and higher rates of gun violence – so we should be striving to tackle these issues head-on, in the neighborhoods that need the support most urgently.”
In the Fiscal Year 2023 City budget, Councilmember Gauthier successfully championed a $30 million investment above the Mayor’s initial proposal in basic city services. However, she recognizes it will take much more to ensure every Philadelphian lives on a clean and safe block. The platform unveiled today comes from conversations with the community and City departments and identifies urgent, realistic, and concrete steps the City can take next fiscal year to bring relief to underserved communities.
“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, quality-of-life issues 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 exasperate 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 Controller, bears this out. While a minute percentage of quality-of-life calls come from Center City, the vast majority come 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 Gauthier asserts that it is unacceptable that the needs of wealthier, whiter neighborhoods tend to get prioritized over those of poorer, Blacker ones.
# # #