Philly Task Force on Eviction Prevention Releases Draft Report

Philly Task Force on Eviction Prevention Releases Draft Report

The city of Philadelphia's Task Force on Eviction Prevention and Response recently released a draft report outlining 17 recommendations for eviction prevention and the provision of additional legal aid for tenants.

In Philadelphia, the number of evictions filed in municipal court has been on the rise since the 1970s, according to the task force’s report. Landlords filed for eviction 24,000 times in 2017, meaning one in every 14 renters in the city faced eviction at some point during the year. As the task force wrote in the introduction to its report, eviction “breaks up communities, hurts prospects for future employment and housing, and increases the need for homeless services.” It also disproportionately harms women of color who have children.

In Philadelphia, according to the eviction task force report, tenants and landlords were both represented by attorneys in court in just 7 percent of cases in 2016. In 74 percent of cases, landlords had lawyers while tenants did not. And that’s just the filed court cases; the task force estimates that illegal, out-of-court evictions are twice as common as legal ones. Correcting that imbalance was one of the primary motivations behind the city council’s allocation of funds for eviction measures.

The recommendations of the task force are split into four areas: outreach and education, resources and supports, housing standards and enforcement, and legal processes and policies. They include establishing a single portal for tenants to access eviction prevention services, creating a homelessness prevention program similar to Homebase in New York, stepping up enforcement of rental-license requirements and other code regulations, increasing legal aid for tenants, and working to expunge eviction filings and judgments after the fact.

For a copy of the report, click here.