PECO and PGW underfire amidst Philadelphia Eviction Crisis
PECO and PGW were directly mentioned by members of the Council and the public for not releasing information to the city in regards to the issuing of multiple meters to property owners that may not have a rental license.
As tens of thousands of Philadelphians face eviction every year, some of Philadelphia's biggest service providers are getting called out for their hand in stopping - or not stopping - unlicensed property owners from renting throughout the city.
Members of City Council held a hearing today on the eviction crisis the city faces that disproportionately effects single mothers, people of color, and poor communities. Addressing everything from lack of enforcement of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) standards to tenants' rights to legal representation, the counsel explored ways to ensure that poor communities do not have to deal with insufficient housing or housing insecurity. But even amidst the concerns, city officials have shared a renewed commitment to ending housing insecurity in a city with one of the highest poverty rates in the nation.
"This is a City Council that's trying to take these issues very seriously. in many ways a lot of the work we're trying to do is not only to talk about poverty but to unpack the ways in which poverty is lived in this city. And one of the ways has got to do with the situation of eviction. We are living in a Philadelphia eviction crisis that targets the poorest of the nation's poorest large city. Last year, 24,000 families faced eviction and that is just the ones we knew about and had legal filings. All in all 1 in 14 Philly renters will face eviction in this city. [...] This is a crisis that deepens poverty and spread homelessness," said Councilwoman Gym, the sponsor of the bill.
And in the fight against poverty and a surplus of property owners that prey on those who needs affordable housing, two corporations, PECO and PGW were called out for their possibly complacent role in maintaining the status quo.
"Because someone doesn't get a license, doesn't mean they stop renting. And so part of our concern is, while you want to identify people for non-compliance, it doesn't mean they stop existing. And so we don't want to create an environment where everything is under the radar and it becomes more difficult to bring people out. [...] There's still 50,000 units that are not licensed. [...] We've started conversations with PGW and PECO because they set up multiple meter accounts and they don't verify that the properties are licensed and zoned before they put that in. [...] So there's an opportunity there to get some stakeholder eyes on the ground."