A message from Karen Harvey, PRCC Director

By Karen Harvey, Dec. 5, 2020

I am Karen Harvey, the Campaign Director of the Phila. Tenants Union. In order to bring together grassroots organizations & city stakeholders two months ago, the Tenants Union launched our Rent Control Campaign as in coalition with One PA, CLS, Philly Socialists, DSA, Reclaim, Stadium Stompers, Lilac, Socialists Alternative, PEC/Youty Healers & BBWC we agreed to the building of a campaign against displacement of black & brown people in Philadelphia, and the foundation for a Rent Control Campaign has begun in earnest!

Philadelphia is in the throes of gentrification. We’re seeing rents doubled & sometimes nearly tripled while incomes in our communities remain unchanged. Senior home owners are being coerced into selling their properties for pennies on the dollar because real estate taxes are climbing to levels they cannot afford; their incomes are fixed & their homes are essentially being stolen by big developers who grease the palms of our elected City officials. The thieves update the properties & escalate the rent making them unobtainable to the persons displaced. Without a cap on rent, Philla’s most vulnerable tenants, specifically those lowest on the income scale, unemployed, underemployed, & single parent households of color are being forced into homelessness, or must rent slumlord properties, that are far too frequently unfit for human habitation.

The Coalition has agreed to fight city hall, city council, Landlord Tenant Court, anyone who supports those developers in their attempts to rob & pillage our neighborhoods. I want my American dream & standing together, success can be realized. Instead of writing our own policy, we are beginning our campaign with a 6 month listening canvass, building a campaign whose outcomes must & will address those most affected by this climate of greed in Philadelphia. Real talk, if you don’t know the anguish of even the possibility of your belongings being placed on the curb, if you’ve never been threatened or suffered through the indignity of Landlord Tenant court, your job begins with listening to the voices of the people who have. It is our duty to mount a campaign where the disenfranchised of the community are victorious. Upon completion of the listening canvass can we understand what Phila. Renters want to see a Rent Control bill. Then we can begin to write legislation which matches that vision. We’ve got to be ready to accept change, prepared for battle with our focus Always on the people we’ve vowed to serve!. Specifically it’s the business of making the, “have too much,” accountable to the people who deserve a whole lot more! Together we made Good Cause a reality. It’s time to do the same with Rent Control!