Following harrowing stories from evicted community members, and calls of support from local activists, city council members unanimously passed a bill Thursday that requires landlords to have “good cause” before evicting tenants from their properties.
The bill, which passed in a 17-0 vote late Thursday, prohibits landlords from evicting their tenants unless there is “good cause” to do so, meaning they have habitually not paid rent, they refuse to agree to an increased rent, they cause a nuisance, or other similar stipulations.
The new piece of legislation is an arguably watered-down version of a bill introduced by Councilman Curtis Jones over a year ago. Rather than applying to all tenants, the newly amended bill—which has undergone several changes in recent weeks—applies only to tenants who have less than a year-long lease, mostly applying to those with month-to-month leases, according to the Philadelphia Tribune. They wrote that Jones has called the final bill a “compromise” and that he’s open to future modifications. The new bill also includes an amendment from Councilman Allan Domb, allowing evictions in case the landlord needs to give the place to a close family member, PlanPhilly wrote.
Thursday’s vote followed hours of emotional and heated testimony from activists and Philly residents who have faced unfair evictions.
Ricci Ross, who spoke Thursday thanked Jones, saying that following her eviction, he is the reason she and her family will be moving into a new home by the holidays. Still, Ross had a warning for other council members about the repercussions of unfair evictions, saying it’s the children who suffer the biggest brunt when families are displaced.
“You’re ignoring children,” she said at the council’s public speaking session before begging council members to think of “our future.”
Her words echoed similar sentiments brought up during the bill’s second reading last week.
Several people came forward at the session in late November, telling their stories of eviction and urging council to push the original version of the bill forward.
One woman, Mara Henao, said that she lived with her children in a Philly home with a promise that she would be there for five years. That is, until her landlord decided to evict them and give the property to the landlord’s daughter.
“Housing is not a business. Housing is a human right,” Henao said, adding, “Good causes will ensure the verbal promises actually happen.”
It was Councilman Jones who had the last words at Thursday’s meeting.
“It’s time for action, and today is that day.”