Philadelphia, PA – May 7, 2020 – Councilmember Helen Gym (At-Large) made the following statement on the extension of a statewide moratorium on all evictions and foreclosures until July 10, 2020. In early March, Councilmember Gym led the initial call for a full moratorium on all evictions, foreclosures and utility shutoffs. On Friday, May 1, she introduced a bill into Philadelphia City Council establishing an extension of the moratorium for 60 days after a state of emergency order is lifted, the same time frame the Governor’s order echoed as part of a package of bills to prevent evictions. The package is called the Emergency Housing Protections Act, and was proposed by two other members of City Council, Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) and Kendra Brooks (At -Large).
“Nothing could be more clear at this time: Housing is the public health. It is economic security. And it is crucial to ensuring we are on the path to recovery. This is why our City Council led the state in protecting families from eviction since the start of the pandemic, and it’s why I helped lead an Emergency Housing Protections Act which seeks common sense solutions to stabilize the housing rental market.
“This was a call driven by the needs of our city. Over 1700 evictions are already scheduled to be heard in our municipal courts alone, many of them women with families, seniors, and individuals who will be hardest hit if they are evicted without homes. I thank Governor Wolf for extending the moratorium on all evictions and foreclosures until July 10. This gives families the assurance they need right now that basic protections are in place; it also grants municipalities time to figure out additional solutions.
“When our courts do re-open, we ask the Governor and our state legislature to dedicate a portion of the $4.9B in federal relief money to the Commonwealth toward stabilizing the housing rental market. Philadelphia and other cities need assistance to establish eviction diversion programs and to fund desperately needed rental assistance and subsidies that can help resolve many of these cases and prevent an avalanche of eviction from happening in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“I am proud that Philadelphia has helped lead on this issue from the beginning, and we will continue to work to remain a national leader on eviction prevention strategies that benefit renters and landlords alike. We cannot afford to return to business as usual in a city that ranks fourth in the nation in terms of eviction. I look forward to working with my colleagues on passing the Emergency Housing Protections package of bills which will prove we can be bold, we can be creative, and we can be responsible in a time of fear and uncertainty.”