PHILADELPHIA – Today, Councilmembers Kendra Brooks (At-Large), Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Mike Driscoll (6th District), Anthony Phillips (9th District), Sharon Vaughn (At-Large), Isaiah Thomas (At-Large), Jim Harrity (At-Large), Quetcy Lozada (7th District), and Mark Squilla (1st District) released the following statement:
“As we have seen with the recent shootings of two Philadelphia women, the status quo for evictions in Philadelphia is unacceptable and cannot continue. Evictions are a public responsibility and need to be conducted with public accountability. The landlord-tenant office currently operates under a private, for-profit attorney, who hires private security contractors with little to no accountability to Philadelphians. Evictions should be rare and should be conducted with robust government oversight.
“Allowing a private, for-profit entity unfettered control over a core government function has led to unnecessary violence and trauma for countless Philadelphians. As elected members of City Council, we are committed to returning the responsibility for enforcing evictions to the public domain where it belongs. In every other municipality in Pennsylvania, this task is carried out under direct government oversight, established standards, and public accountability. Philadelphia should not be the exception.
“Under the profit motive of our current eviction system, evictions are carried out as quickly as possible, with tremendous cost to the mental and physical well-being of tenants, who are disproportionately women of color. Armed security contractors show up, often unannounced, and allow tenants only ten minutes to gather children, pets, medical equipment, and all other belongings before being permanently locked out. If something goes wrong, there is no established protocol for investigation and no public accountability.
“A recent hearing of the Housing Committee uncovered multiple widely-accepted standards and practices for governing how evictions are performed, and we look forward to working with colleagues at all levels of government to bring this responsibility under public oversight and to prevent the violence and trauma that recently upended the lives of two Philadelphia women.”