Philadelphia Program For LGBT Youth Sunsets in 2022
Billy Penn has an update on a program to support homeless LGBT youth in Philadelphia. “‘The Way Home Project” — which we wrote about in a previous housing brief — launched in March 2020 with $400,000 in CARES Act funding, but is set to end this spring unless it receives more state or federal funds. The program, which is administered by the city’s Office of Homeless Services along with the nonprofits SELF, Inc. and the William Way LGBT Center, subsidizes rent for unhoused LGBT youth for up to a year. 40 participants were funded in the first year and a second round of participants were funded into summer 2022.
According to Billy Penn, the program has been successful for participants but suffers from high demand and long waits for housing. The waitlist is at three times capacity and a participant profiled by the outlet waited six months for “rapid rehousing,” owing in part to the difficulty of finding participating landlords, who stigmatize formerly homeless tenants. “With the loss of the federal CARES money, OHS faces a funding cliff that threatens many existing programs,” an OHS spokesperson told Billy Penn.
Philly Landlords Get Their Bad Leases From The Internet
A study published by Penn Law School in December looked over 170,000 residential leases that appeared in over 200,000 eviction filings in Philadelphia and found the terms of the leases were heavily pro-landlord and frequently had terms that were not legally enforceable. The study, which examined leases from between 2005-2019, found that landlords increasingly were adopting boilerplate leases developed by pro-landlord nonprofits. According to the abstract, “Over time, it has become easier and cheaper for landlords to adopt such common forms, meaning that access to justice for landlords strips tenants of rights.” The study found Black tenants were more likely to have clauses that permit eviction in the case of crime or drug use on the premises, especially when the tenant lives in a whiter neighborhood.
According to Slate, some of the conditions in the leases include limiting the landlord’s liability for negligence and rules that permit eviction at a speed faster than state law allows. While such clauses would likely not hold up in court, most people who are evicted never see the inside of a court during the process.
NY Eviction Moratorium to Elapse, Advocates Push For Extension and Good Cause
New York state’s eviction moratorium elapses on January 15, and Governor Kathy Hochul has signaled that it will not be extended.
Tenants in the state owe an estimated $1 billion in back rent to landlords and the state has exhausted its federal pandemic assistance funds, the New York Daily News reports. A request to the federal government for leftover federal eviction funds ended with the state receiving only $27 million.
The New York Post reports that the governor will make a direct request to President Biden in a joint letter with other governors, asking once again that the federal government help with the backlog. Last week, a judge ordered that the state open up applications for eviction protection funds, despite the fact that its funds are nearly depleted and tenants will likely not receive aid, The Real Deal reported. The lawsuit was brought by the Legal Aid Society because applying for the funds temporarily protects tenants from eviction.
Meanwhile, legislators have shifted focus to pushing for a “Good Cause” eviction bill — first proposed in 2019 but dropped from that year’s statewide housing reforms — to be signed by the governor. The bill would give tenants the right to automatic lease renewals and make it illegal to evict tenants without a good reason. It would also provide stronger eviction protections for tenants whose rent is raised beyond 3% a year or more than 1.5 percent of the consumer price index. 11 state senators and 26 members of the state’s assembly, 27 NYC council members, the city’s comptroller as well as the mayor of Hudson all signed an open letter to the Governor calling on her to sign the bill. Activists have also been demonstrating in Albany both for an extension of the moratorium and for the good cause bill, in one instance stacking up chairs and moving boxes in front of a state building in protest.
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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.