Philadelphia City Hall

STATEMENT FROM COUNCILMEMBERS HELEN GYM AND KENDRA BROOKS ON THE UNIVERSITY CITY TOWNHOMES

In Council News, Helen Gym, Jamie Gauthier, Kendra Brooks, News by PHL Council

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PHILADELPHIA — Today, City Councilmembers Helen Gym (At-Large) and Kendra Brooks (At-Large) released the following statement:

“Housing stability, accessibility, and affordability are among the most fundamental of human rights and the bedrock of a healthy community. It shapes public wellness, community safety, financial stability, and school performance — and it’s why together, we have worked alongside Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) to transform our city’s housing landscape and restore equal voice and power back to Black and low-income residents who have borne the brunt of an unjust, broken system. This is why we stand in solidarity with the 67 families who call the University City Townhomes home and support their efforts to keep their communities whole.

“A viable solution must center the voices and wellbeing of the longtime residents of the UC Townhomes. After meeting with the UC Townhomes Residents’ Council, we strongly support a one-year extension of the federal contract with Housing and Urban Development. This is especially important for resident families with children in public schools; children should not be uprooted from their schools and academic support networks. We support committing city dollars to more comprehensively preserve affordable housing in our city and call on our state and federal leaders to match these investments. As we face the likelihood of more expiring HUD contracts, we must establish a preservation fund and allow residents time to organize and access self-determined housing solutions.

“We must continue to pursue novel policies, like those advanced by Councilmember Gauthier, which incentivize the preservation and creation of affordable housing in an amenity-rich portion of West Philly that includes the Townhomes site and uphold our legal and moral commitment to fair housing and neighborhood integration. Ultimately, the responsibility for this crisis is not on city government alone. We need a federal recommitment to fund and build public housing, and we believe that tax exempt institutions, which have helped drive the increase in housing prices and residential segregation, must now proactively support long-term and permanent housing affordability.

“The UC Townhomes crisis underscores the complex nature of this challenge and makes evident that conventional solutions to this problem were never going to be sufficient. Philadelphia has proven that we can transform preconceptions around housing injustices with bold policies. We must not accept the displacement of dozens of Black families as a foregone conclusion without exhausting every possible outlet.”

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