PHILADELPHIA, March 15, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), Chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee, joined Senators Sharif Street, Nikil Saval, Amanda Cappelletti, Tina Tartaglione and Art Haywood to host a public hearing on housing scarcity and contemporary houselessness yesterday at Temple University.
“We need to tackle the issue of economic injustice – from raising wages to actual living wages and ensuring rent and housing prices are fair, transparent, and flexible according to each individual’s financial situation,” Muth said. “All levels of government need to implement policies that ensure public dollars are actually helping the public, not the wealthy, private real estate and private equity firms making billions off of taxpayer funded subsidies and evicting people who can’t afford to pay skyrocketing rent and housing rates. I hope our hearing and the impassioned testimony provided by actual Pennsylvanians living these challenges forces this conversation into the ongoing budget debate and into all 67 counties and local government priorities.”
The policy hearing featured three panels of participants who presented testimony and discussed personal stories about housing scarcity, houselessness, and the government’s responsibility to provide safe, affordable, and accessible housing in Pennsylvania.
“The recent tragic fire in Philadelphia’s Fairmount community that claimed the lives of 12, including 9 children, began with a failure of government. A family was forced to make the untenable choice of cramming eighteen individuals into a single unit because of a lack of resources. Housing is security and dignity. Years of divestment from every level of government have been an abdication of government’s duty to protect the communities they serve,” Street said. “The fundamental question for society and government is ‘how do we create accessible, safe and affordable housing for all?’ I look forward to joining my colleagues in creating policy to address the critical issue of housing scarcity.”
Testifiers at the hearing included Gail Loney, a North Central Philadelphia resident; Alisha Robinson, a Frankford resident; Kelvin Jeremiah, president and CEO, Philadelphia Housing Authority; Aaron Zappia, Senior Government Relations Manager, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania; Andrew Frishkoff, Executive Director, Philadelphia Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC); and Stephanie Sena, Anti-Poverty Fellow & Housing Advocate, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.
“The housing crisis is not unsolvable—we need to act to ameliorate it at every chance we get,” Saval added. “That means raising wages, building equity into our systems, and preserving affordable housing by giving people what they need to repair and maintain and stay in their homes.”
All submitted testimony from the policy hearing and the full video is available at SenatorMuth.com/Policy.
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Panel 1: Lived Experience
- Gail Loney, North Central Philadelphia Resident
- Alisha Robinson, Frankford Resident
Panel 2: The Philadelphia Housing Authority
Panel 3: Policy Solutions
- Aaron Zappia, Senior Government Relations Manager, Housing Alliance of Philadelphia
- Andrew Frishkoff, Executive Director, Philadelphia Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
- Stephanie Sena, Anti-Poverty Fellow & Housing Advocate, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law