Philly Council votes unanimously to provide free lawyers for tenants facing eviction

Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed a bill Thursday that will provide lawyers to low-income tenants facing eviction in the city.

News Story (Pennsylvania)

Jake Blumgart
November 14, 2019

Tags: Housing: Right to Counsel

Organizations mentioned/involved: Philadelphia Bar Association


The legislation, introduced by Councilmember Helen Gym, is part of a wave of pro-renter legislation approved by the city in recent years.

“One’s ability to access the justice system and defend their shelter and home should not be based on who can afford a lawyer,” said Rasheedah Phillips, a long-time tenant advocate in the city. “The scales of justice should never be tipped in favor of a landlords’ ability to make a profit.”

A recent study from the Philadelphia Bar Association estimated that a right-to-counsel program could cost $3.5 million annually. But Gym has said that it is likely to be more expensive, especially after the scope of the bill was expanded last month to include administrative proceedings before the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the Fair Housing Commission.