Generocity: Erin Flynn Jay | August 10, 2021
After City Councilmember Helen Gym (At-Large) held a press conference yesterday calling on the municipal courts to ban all lockouts and sent a letter co-signed by nine members of City Council, the courts issued an order banning lockouts of tenants who have completed an application for rent assistance.
The court also agreed to provide an updated pre-lockout notice when renters’ last notification occurred before May 1, 2021. Gym commended the municipal court for the order and called on the courts to go further by banning lockouts throughout the duration of CDC’s newly extended eviction moratorium.
“I have heard from families who were locked out but were unable to apply for rent assistance or who had paid all their rent but were evicted anyway,” she said. “At a time when the Delta variant is on the rise, and studies have found that evictions lead to the increased spread of COVID and deaths, I am calling on the courts to halt lockouts throughout the duration of the CDC’s newly extended eviction moratorium.”
“Lockouts are traumatic, dangerous, and counterproductive. We have built nationally renowned alternatives to eviction that can keep renters housed, and help landlords get paid,” Gym added. “We now need time to limit the spread of COVID by keeping families housed.”
The Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project helps connect renters with a coalition of agencies who provide information, support, and legal services to tenants. Tenants looking for information on their rights and resources can go to www.phillytenant.org for up-to date information.
Tenants can attend one of TURN’s daily Know Your Rights webinars: https://rturn.net/tenant-union-representative-network-services/renters-rights-webinar/. The webinars are one-hour sessions which go into detail about what rights and responsibilities tenants have and tenants can schedule one-on-one meetings with housing counselors after the webinar, said Rachel Garland, managing attorney of the Housing Unit of Community Legal Services (CLS).
They can also call the Philly Tenant Hotline for more advice about their individual case and to be connected with one of the legal services agencies for possible representation.
“Our legal services agencies — Community Legal Services, SeniorLAW Center and Legal Clinic for the Disabled — provide robust legal advice to tenants facing eviction and other rental issues and represent high volumes of tenants in their court proceedings,” Garland said. “They can also connect tenants with PhillyVIP which works to match tenants with pro bono attorneys. The Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project also has a Lawyer of the Day team in the eviction courtroom every day who is available to represent a limited number of tenants who arrive at court without having connected with an attorney in advance.”
Since September 2019 the City of Philadelphia, along with its nonprofit partners, has run a pre-filing Eviction Diversion Program. Garland said many tenants are now able to go through Diversion rather than the court eviction process.
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