Policy Committee vets Fiedler, Krajewski’s administrative fix that would have major impacts on Pa. renters

HARRISBURG, June 2 – Today’s roundtable discussion hosted by state Rep. Rick Krajewski further cemented the need for action on how eviction records are handled in Pennsylvania.

Krajewski was joined by state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, chair of the Subcommittee on Progressive Policies for Working People and members of the House Democratic Policy Committee to discuss how eviction proceedings impact tenants long-term and shared how their legislation would establish eviction expungement procedures.

Fiedler explained: “I’m proud to hold his hearing to draw attention to a bill I have, with Rep. Krajewski, that would give people who have faced eviction through no fault of their own, the chance to have their record sealed and move on with their life. An eviction filing can lead to a domino effect of traumatic life-changing events that start with losing your home, and can include losing your community, your support system, your children’s school, your employment and more. We need to do everything we can as a society to prevent that from happening to adults, senior citizens, children and all families.”

The committee heard testimony from Catherine Anderson, supervising attorney, eviction diversion program, Philadelphia Legal Assistance; Gale Schwartz, associate director, policy and strategic initiatives, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania; Anne Wright, chief technology officer, RentHelpPgh; Nicolás Pastore, former legislative intern, state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler;

Patty Torres, organizing director, Make the Road Pennsylvania; and Karen Harvey, director,

Philadelphia Rent Control Coalition. Testimony highlighted how Fiedler and Krajewski’s legislation is a simple, administrative fix that would have positive impacts for renters and landlords alike.

"Having access to safe, clean, healthy housing is a human right," said Krajewski. "I know firsthand what it feels like to not have stable housing, and I want to do all I can to ensure safe, clean and stable housing for everyone — and to make sure that no one's past will hold power over their future, including over the ability to secure housing.

"Growing up, my family moved six times between my sixth and eighteenth birthdays," Krajewski continued. "The lack of consistent permanent housing affected my ability to be rooted in my community. Housing was temporary, a place to be until some external financial setback forced us to pack up again and move on to our next dwelling. It’s estimated that over 20,000 renters have evictions filed against them each year in Philadelphia. The very least we can do for these renters is seal their records to allow them a fresh start at affordable, safe housing. I was grateful to be able to bring awareness to this issue in our recent House Democratic Policy Committee hearing, and I look forward to doing all I can to enact legislation to address this issue."

The agenda and full hearing video are available at https://pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee/Story/?id=119845.