PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City council members heard testimony Monday that many of the thousands of evictions in Philadelphia, each year, could be avoided if the tenants had lawyers.
William Church is a 65-year-old former marine with serious health problems and a landlord, he says, has ignored deplorable conditions in his home.READ MORE: Man Shot In Leg After Leading Philadelphia Police On Chase Through Hunting Park
“I have swept snow and ice from my bedroom, lived with bugs and had squirrels in the ceiling,” Church testified.
City council members exploring what they call the city’s eviction “crisis” heard that those kinds of code violations often precede an eviction.READ MORE: All Employees Accounted For After Possible Tornado Hits Bensalem Car Dealership, Official Says
Tenants, as Mr. Church did, stop paying rent, a remedy allowed by law, but then are sued in landlord-tenant court, where 92 percent of tenants have no lawyer, but usually face a landlord who does. Church is lucky. The senior law center is helping him — but Councilwoman Helen Gym says eviction shouldn’t be left to luck.
“Eviction and the substandard housing conditions faced by tens of thousands in our city is a public health crisis,” she said.MORE NEWS: 76ers Take Tennessee Guard Jaden Springer With 28th Pick Of Draft
Gym called on her colleagues to craft a public policy solution.