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City task force suggests ways to combat eviction crisis

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The task force came up with 17 suggestions on how to bring down the high rate of evictions in Philly.

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A task force set up by Mayor Jim Kenney’s office has analyzed the high eviction rate in Philly and come up with 17 suggestions for how to bring the number of evictions down.

The task force published its final report Tuesday—the result of eight months of work to examine the nature of evictions in the city. Among the ideas to bring the eviction rate down, task force officials suggested training for landlords and tenants, more legal representation for low income tenants, and outreach for those facing eviction.

The task force’s report is not a moment too soon. Last year alone, over 24,000 eviction filings were recorded, amounting to one in every 14 households facing eviction, according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

That mark of an eviction on a tenant’s record can have long-term consequences—many find it difficult to get accepted for future housing.

“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,” Kenney said in the statement.

The task force is made up of 22 members who have expertise in landlord-tenant issues, including members of the public like tenants and landlords, and sought input from community members over the course of the last eight months.

“The Task Force has assessed the Philadelphia eviction landscape and best practices in eviction prevention from across the country to identify 17 recommendations in the following areas: Outreach and Education, Resources and Supports, Housing Standards and Enforcement, and Legal Process and Policies,” the statement said.

The mayor’s task force is not alone in its efforts to combat the city’s eviction crisis. In January the city launched the Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project, a new set of legal and financial services for renters in danger of eviction.

Last year, Councilmember Helen Gym called for council to address the crisis, which she noted—as the task force did in their report—affects African American people and women disproportionately.

In July of last year, the city announced that it was putting $500,000 toward helping renters who are at risk of eviction during the court proceedings.

The task force will bring their suggestions to city council for a review when council reconvenes in the fall.