Philly tenants should have access to legal aid

Philadelphia should follow the example of Washington and New York and move toward making legal representation in eviction and foreclosure proceedings a right, not a privilege available only to those who can afford it.
Op-Ed (Pennsylvania)

Deborah R. Gross, Catherine Carr, Joseph Sullivan
Philadelphia Inquirer
March 17, 2017

Tags: Civil Right to Counsel, Housing: Eviction

Organizations mentioned/involved: Philadelphia Bar Association


In contrast, every day Philadelphians end up in civil, or non-criminal, courtrooms where they face critical consequences that can upend their life, but where they have no right to a lawyer. They may lose their home or their children or be saddled with large financial obligations. If they are unable to afford a lawyer, they must navigate a frightening and complex legal system alone.

American law recognizes the sanctity of our homes in many ways, but that is not visible when families stand in our courtrooms unrepresented and worried about ending up in the streets. Two major U.S. cities – Washington, D.C., and New York City – are currently considering local laws that will ensure a right to legal counsel for individuals facing eviction or foreclosure proceedings. And now, thanks to a resolution introduced by Councilwoman Helen Gym, Philadelphia is exploring becoming the third.