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Published on April 04, 2024
Philadelphia Councilmembers Launch 'Our Philly Neighborhoods' to Reinforce Housing StabilitySource: City Council Philadelphia

In a move to reinforce housing stability in Philadelphia, Councilmembers Kendra Brooks, Jamie Gauthier, Nicolas O'Rourke, and Rue Landau have unveiled a legislative package aimed at keeping residents in their homes. The "Our Philly Neighborhoods" initiative, a continuation of programs such as the Eviction Diversion Program and Whole Home Repairs, seeks to bolster community resilience through a mix of legal measures and financial backing.

Unfolding the blueprint at City Hall, Councilmember Brooks emphasized the need to expand on the achievements of existing programs. "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," she stated, according to an article by PHL Council. The legislation, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Isaiah Thomas and Nina Ahmad, will also propose an increase in rental assistance to $50 million a year for the next two years, a stark rise from the current $30 million.

The move follows the reported success of the Eviction Diversion Program, which according to Councilmember Gauthier, has set the national standard and necessitated permanent legal status. "As rent and housing costs continue to soar, eviction diversion remains critically important for the well-being and stability of our neighborhoods," Gauthier said, as detailed in a statement.

Apart from legal enforcements, the package includes calls for escalated funding for home repair programs to tackle the challenges of Philadelphia's aging housing stock. Councilmember O'Rourke pointed out the heightened demand for services that often exceeds current resource availability and the obligation to address this imbalance, "so we must do more to help people safely stay in their homes, and include more of rental households in our repair programs," as he stated during the announcement.

Housing advocates, like Renters United Philadelphia's Eden Gibson, underscored the real-world implications of the legislative proposals by bringing attention to the dire conditions faced by tenants. "My daughter and I should not have to feel unsafe in our own home," Gibson commented while calling for action against negligent landlords. The package also aims to broaden property tax relief for eligible homeowners, as noted by Councilmember Brooks. State politicians including Senator Nikil Saval and Representatives Rick Krajewski and Chris Rabb have expressed their support, recognizing the symbiotic relationship between local and state efforts in addressing the housing crisis.