In Isaiah Thomas, Jamie Gauthier, Kendra Brooks, Nicolas O'Rourke, Nina Ahmad, Uncategorized by Kendra Brooks

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The Our Philly Neighborhoods platform includes a bill to make Eviction Diversion permanent, a proposal for increased rental assistance, and hearings on rental housing repairs and tax relief for low-income homeowners.

PHILADELPHIA – This morning at City Hall, Councilmembers Kendra Brooks (At-Large), Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Nicolas O’Rourke (At-Large), and Rue Landau (At-Large) joined housing advocates to announce “Our Philly Neighborhoods,” a platform that builds on the success and popularity of the Eviction Diversion Program, Whole Home Repairs programs, and property tax relief programs to keep more people in their homes and stabilize Philadelphia neighborhoods.

“Philly’s Eviction Diversion Program is a national model for stabilizing neighborhoods and keeping families in their homes,” said Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large). “We must build on that success, and on the success of Whole Home Repair programs, to make it possible for more working families to stay rooted in their neighborhoods, repair their homes, and afford their property taxes. When working families can count on stable homes, our neighborhoods are safer, more vibrant places to live, work, and grow.”

The four lawmakers will co-introduce legislation on April 4th to make the Eviction Diversion Program permanent and proposed $100 million over the next two years for rental assistance, a crucial factor in the program’s success. Councilmembers Isaiah Thomas and Nina Ahmad will join as co-sponsors. Hailed as a national model by the White House and Governor Shapiro, the Eviction Diversion Program has helped thousands of renters and small landlords to resolve issues without going to court. According to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, eviction filings in the city have decreased by 40% from pre-pandemic levels, making Philadelphia a leader in keeping housing issues out of court and keeping renters in their homes.

“Tomorrow we are introducing legislation that will make the Eviction Diversion Program the permanent law of the land here in our city. Philadelphia’s Eviction Diversion Program set the nationwide standard for how to keep vulnerable families in their homes. This program is a win for tenants, a win for landlords, a win for the court, and a win for communities. As rent and housing costs continue to soar, eviction diversion remains critically important for the well-being and stability of our neighborhoods. If you do not have a place to live, nothing else matters,” said Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Chair of City Council’s Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless.

In addition to the bill, councilmembers and advocates called for an increase in funding for rental assistance, also known as Targeted Financial Assistance (TFA). Over the past two years, the city has allocated $30 million a year in rental assistance. The councilmembers are calling for $50 million a year over the next two years to stabilize renters and small landlords. In Philadelphia, where roughly half of households are renter households, the vast majority of landlords own only one or two rental units. According to Mayor Parker’s Five Year Plan, over 3800 landlords were able to collect past-due rent in 2023 thanks to rental assistance.

“I have spent my career helping thousands of low-income renters in Philadelphia avoid eviction from their affordable housing, which is part of why I am thrilled to introduce legislation to make the Eviction Diversion Program permanent in Philadelphia,” said Councilmember Rue Landau (At-Large). “We know Eviction Diversion works for working Philadelphians – it’s kept many thousands of renters in their homes. And it’s helped so many mom and pop landlords recoup past-due rent thanks to Targeted Financial Assistance (TFA). I’m fighting for $50 million a year for rental subsidies like TFA in the budget to keep building on the success of this program and keep a roof over the head of our most vulnerable residents.”

The platform also calls for more robust investments in home repair programs, including Built to Last, the Basic Systems Repair Program, and the Rental Improvement Fund. With some of the oldest housing stock in the nation, Philadelphia is experiencing record demand for home repairs. Councilmembers O’Rourke and Landau will co-introduce a resolution on April 4th to authorize a hearing on repairs in rental housing.

“Philadelphia is an historic city, with the aging housing stock to boot,” said Councilmember Nicolas O’Rourke (At-Large). “Even with multiple repair programs, demand for services too often outstrips the resources that are available — so we must do more to help people safely stay in their homes, and include more of rental households in our repair programs. The fact that these programs are also shown to lower both crime and energy costs, boost climate resilience, and reduce emissions makes fighting for these investments a no-brainer.”

Advocates including Eden Gibson of Renters United Philadelphia, Shawmar Pitts of Philly Thrive, and Geneva Williams, a senior homeowner, described the need for repairs in their homes and the hazards posed by aging, unrepaired housing.

“My daughter and I should not have to feel unsafe in our own home,” said Eden Gibson, a member of Renters United Philadelphia. “Renters United members are going through the same exact issues that I’ve been going through when renting from Jean Paul Gulle and other large landlords like Drew Demarco, Lublin Walsh, and Odin Properties. We need the City and L&I to step in to hold these corporate landlords accountable so that all renters can be comfortable in our own homes without having to worry about leaking pipes and unsafe conditions, or being pushed out or displaced.”

In addition to preventing evictions and repairing homes, the Our Philly Neighborhoods platform includes legislation to extend property tax relief to more Philadelphia homeowners. According to an analysis by the Inquirer, one in five homeowners who qualify for tax relief are not receiving it. A resolution introduced by Councilmember Kendra Brooks seeks to address this issue with a hearing on automatic enrollment into existing tax relief programs. A bill introduced by Councilmember Jamie Gauthier will freeze property taxes at their current level for homeowners within the eligible income range.

State Senator Nikil Saval and State Representatives Rick Krajewski and Chris Rabb also expressed support for the Our Philly Neighborhoods platform, describing how it aligns with their efforts to stabilize housing across Pennsylvania.

“Small landlords face many of the same pressures as homeowners—to forgo necessary repairs and updates, or to sell their properties to big corporations that may or may not be based in Philly, in Pennsylvania, or, even, in the United States,” said State Senator Nikil Saval (Senate District 1). “The platform proposed by my colleagues in Council helps to protect the right to a home that is safe, healthy, and affordable for everyone—whether that home is owned or rented—by investing in our city’s proven models. They have set the stage for our city to again take the lead in a comprehensive counteroffensive to the housing crisis.”

“As I fight hard in Harrisburg to create a statewide Right to Counsel program, boost Whole-Home Repairs funding, reform Philly’s broken eviction process, and seal harmful eviction records, I’m grateful to have housing champions fighting to keep the momentum going in City Hall,” said State Representative Rick Krajewski (House District 188). “Every family deserves a safe, stable home. Philly’s eviction diversion program is a national model that keeps families in their homes and should absolutely be made permanent, but we can’t stop there. By expanding our home-repair and property tax assistance resources, we can continue to define our city as a national leader in the movement for housing justice.”


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