Tenant Access To Eviction Counsel Gains Steam In Philly

After spending two years providing low-income tenants facing possible eviction with pro bono legal representation, Philadelphia's mayor and City Council are taking steps to make the pilot program permanent.

News Story (Pennsylvania)

Matt Fair
March 17, 2019

Tags: Civil Right to Counsel, Housing: Eviction

Organizations mentioned/involved: Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia


Councilwoman Helen Gym said a bill she introduced this month to establish a permanent legal defense fund is a step towards the ultimate goal of codifying the right to counsel for low-income tenants in Philadelphia. The city has already provided $1.3 million getting the pilot program started over the past two years.


An $850,000 appropriation would match the amount the city spent last year, the second year of the program, as it worked to ramp up services.

The funding has been used not only for legal representation but also to staff a hotline for tenants with questions about their cases.

And it has been used to establish a lawyer-of-the-day program providing same-day counsel to tenants who show up to hearings without an attorney.

“This is in recognition of the fact that people aren’t learning about their hearing in enough to go necessarily go to a legal services agency to do an intake,” said Rasheedah Phillips, the managing attorney of the housing law section of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia.