Philadelphia House Delegation calls for bold changes in eviction process

Delegation is prompted by recent incidents involving landlord-tenant officer

HARRISBURG, July 20 – After the third eviction-related shooting since March in Philadelphia, members of the Philadelphia House Delegation today said the organization is determined to help end the practice of private contractors performing eviction services in the city to avoid more violent incidents.

“The imminent threat of being displaced from home can put anybody into a rage and despair mode. If you add to this scenario people without the proper training, carrying guns to handle evictions, the outcome can be fatal,” said Delegation Chair Morgan Cephas, who is organizing upcoming hearings in August about the evictions with state Rep. Mike Sturla, chair of the PA House Housing & Community Development Committee.

“Philadelphia’s landlord-tenant officer has temporarily stopped evictions, but this is a turning point: evictions must be handled by public officials and our delegation will be working to introduce legislation to regulate this process. We are ready to establish policies that would support critical demands in this system, like proper protocol and de-escalations practice to protect the safety and integrity of the tenants,” she added.

State Rep. Rick Krajewski, who will be introducing a bill addressing the subject, explained that the mercenary mentality of private contractors working for the city's landlord-tenant officer serves no public good.

Krajewski indicated that his bill would eliminate sudden lockouts by notifying tenants in advance, among other provisions. The legislation also aims for transparency during the evictions.  

“This is the third shooting since March by these security contractors who operate with little transparency and as if they are above the law,” Krajewski said. “Housing should be considered a human right and not regulated with lethal force. We must end this farce of private entities executing evictions in Philadelphia and enact commonsense reforms that allow tenants to be notified in advance and provide clear, transparent accountability to these proceedings."

The latest incident in a series of related violent events occurred on Tuesday when a woman was shot by a private contractor during an eviction in the Port Richmond area during an eviction.