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City Council introducing bills to expand protections for low-income residents

Following a report on poverty in Philly

via Flickr/Michael Cramer

In an effort to combat Philly’s poverty problem, City Council members plan to introduce several bills that would grant more rights and protections for low-income tenants and those living in affordable housing.

There are three bills in total, which will be introduced at the weekly council meeting Thursday: One bill to create a low-income tenant legal defense fund; another to establish “fair chance” housing legislation for people returning from prison; and a third bill to establish affordable housing requirements for, certain public land sales.

The proposals come in response to a report, commissioned by City Council President Darrell Clarke, which examined Philly’s problem with poverty. The report, called “Narrowing the Gap,” was put together by independent consulting firm HR&A Advisors, Inc.

Specifically it looked at, “housing security and equity; economic inequality, employment, and workers’ protections; and financial services and benefits programs to support people who are living in poverty or are at risk of falling into poverty,” according to a statement from Clarke’s office.

The report also suggested several ways to reduce wealth inequality in the city, leading to the three proposals expected to go in front of council tomorrow. Clarke’s office said more proposed bills on job creation and fair working conditions are yet to come.

“The lack of legal representation has unfortunately allowed unjust evictions to rise in Philadelphia,” Council member Jannie Blackwell said, addressing the first of the three proposed ordinances. “We hope to work with tenants’ rights organizations and property owners to establish a fairer balance of power between landlords and tenants.”