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December 10, 2020

Philadelphia Bar Association Praises Extension of City of Philadelphia Eviction Diversion Program

Chancellor Hon. A. Michael Snyder (ret.) of the Philadelphia Bar Association issued the following statement in response to Philadelphia City Council's vote to extend the City's eviction diversion program:

"The Philadelphia City Council's decision today to extend the City's Eviction Diversion Program through March 31, 2021 is a critical move to support renters, prevent homelessness and help our entire community weather the continued challenges created by COVID-19.

As I wrote in testimony submitted to the Council's Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development and the Homeless, in just a few months, the eviction diversion program has already achieved a track record of success. Since its passage by City Council earlier this year, the program has helped hundreds of tenants and landlords come to agreements without having to go to court. In addition to allowing tenants to stay in their homes and off the streets at a time when COVID-19 cases continue to increase, the program has also helped to ensure that our city's Court system does not become overburdened.

The Association strongly supported City Council's 2019 passage of legislation assuring a right to counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction. Even before the economic uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Philadelphia's high eviction rate represented a citywide crisis. The Association's groundbreaking 2018 study, the Stout Report, found that the City could save millions each year by funding counsel for eligible low-income tenants.

Much like the right to counsel, the eviction diversion program not only makes financial sense for the City, it is also a life-saving service for many renters."

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