Philadelphia-Mayor Jim Kenney announced the formation of an Eviction Task Force to reduce the number of evictions and buffer the effects of low income residents in the Philadelphia. The city is facing a housing crisis due to a shortage of safe and affordable housing. Research shows between 2010-2015, one in fourteen Philadelphia renters faced a formal eviction filing. Last year alone 24,000 evictions were filed in the city.
“This epidemic has enormous costs, both economically and socially” said Mayor Kenney. “Low income families who lose their homes often end up in homeless shelters or in housing that is less affordable and more dangerous than the housing they are forced to leave. They suffer from lost employment, missed schooling and damage to physical and mental health.”
Mayor Kenney signed an Executive Order establishing the task force. Twenty-seven members have been appointed with experience in housing, landlord-tenant matters, legal services and other related fields. It will be chaired by Liz Hersh, the Director of the Office of Homeless Services and Mitchell Little, the Director of the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity. They will be tasked with:
- Developing a clear understanding of the Philadelphia eviction landscape, including who is impacted by evictions, documenting the eviction process, and current services and policies.
- Determining best practices, identifying gaps, and supporting the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan to prevent evictions and reduce the deleterious effects of eviction in Philadelphia.
- Identifying additional funding streams to support actions and activities recommended by the taskforce.
- Producing a concise report of actionable recommendations for reducing eviction and other related findings.
The task force will build on the strengths of City Council leadership that allocated $400,000 for an eviction defense fund to ensure better outcomes for low income renters. The Department of Planning and Development allocated an additional $100,000. The funds will be used for assistance for those who are threatened with losing their homes.
Councilwoman Helen Gym (At Large) lead the effort in city council. “In June, Philadelphia surged to the forefront of a national movement to protect and support low-income people in their fight to secure housing as a human right. Today we continue that effort by putting our best minds together to study an underreported crisis in our city – the scourge of evictions that overwhelmingly impacts communities of color, especially women and the families they head. I’m looking forward to deepening this work and pursuing policies that prioritize housing and keeping people in their homes” she said.
The Task force will have its first meeting next in October and will present a draft report in April for public comments and its final recommendations to the Mayor in June.