Philadelphia, PA — August 27, 2021 — Senator Nikil Saval (D–Philadelphia) released a statement today on the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to eliminate the only remaining protection for renters:
“Hundreds of thousands of people across our state, and millions of people all across our country, awoke this morning to the news that the last thin thread of protection keeping them housed was eliminated overnight, cut with the quick and cruel precision of a justice system that cares nothing for the devastation it leaves in the wake of its decisions.
“In a nation as wealthy as ours, in which the essential right to housing is commodified as a toy for the wealthy elite, there can be no mistake: this decision places the property of those who have more above the very lives of those who have less. Eviction is violence. Houselessness is violence. And this violence is rendered all the more senseless, all the more pathological, because at this moment, more than $40 billion in federal rental assistance funds sit idling as local governments race to connect with struggling renters and release these funds to their landlords.
“The CDC’s moratorium was an important, lifesaving pause on evictions. As national COVID-19 case counts rise to rates not seen since this past January, and with the impending termination of the pandemic unemployment assistance payments, we cannot mince words in discussing the urgency of this moment. Without protections, people will die.
“I call on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to immediately issue an all-encompassing eviction moratorium to protect the hundreds of thousands of renters across our state who are in danger of eviction. This moratorium must remain in place until local governments and municipalities are able to distribute the hundreds of millions of dollars our state has in Emergency Rental Assistance funds to the tenants and landlords who desperately need them.
“Right now, my colleagues and I are working on legislation to ensure that tenants behind on their payments are connected with rental assistance programs before they are evicted—preventing an eviction simply because of a household’s poverty. But Pennsylvanians cannot wait for the legislature to act. As the Delta variant ravages our Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court must act now to prevent people from being forcibly removed from their homes.
“Eviction and foreclosure moratoria were found to prevent illnesses and deaths at the height of the pandemic. With a state eviction moratorium in place, we can keep tenants safe while providing landlords with the means to make ends meet. The lives of vulnerable Pennsylvanians depend on our ability to help everyone, all at once. I look to my colleagues in the Senate and the House to join their voices with mine in calling for the State Supreme Court to issue an immediate eviction moratorium.”