Smith-Wade-El, PA House members & community leaders rally for fair housing legislation, housing budget proposals

HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster, hosted a rally today with other legislators, legal experts and community advocates from across the state in support of fair housing in Pennsylvania.

“The lack of affordable housing in Pennsylvania has resulted in evictions and homelessness for many Pennsylvanians,” Smith-Wade-El said. “Every person has the right to a roof over their head. Our rally today called out the continuing inequities in housing in our commonwealth and the legislative and budget initiatives devised to address them. 

“As Democrats in the PA House, we’re fighting for a person-centered approach to fair housing, from helping the unhoused get back into a safe home, to my bill that would seal no-fault eviction records so people can find housing, to increased support for the Whole Home Repairs program so seniors can fix and stay in their homes,” Smith-Wade-El said. “We understand that having a home to call one’s own is a human right, a matter of justice. I and my colleagues will fight to make sure that every Pennsylvanian can enjoy their fundamental right to a safe and secure place in which to live.”

The rally focused on the PA House budget proposal (H.B. 2324), which would increase funding for fair housing initiatives; the need for increased funding for the homelessness assistance program; a House-led proposal to increase PHARE funding to $100 million dollars; the LLC Transparency Act; and Smith-Wade-El’s Fair Housing Access legislation, which would seal eviction records in certain cases.  

“Affordable housing is a crisis in communities across Pennsylvania, but particularly in Philadelphia, where homelessness and a lack of reliable housing exists,” said state Rep. Morgan Cephas. D-Phila. “We’ve made strides in Philadelphia addressing our landlord-tenant issues, but there still exists a need for further tenants’ rights across the state. These targeted funds in the state budget would go a long way to increasing availability of and access to housing options, improving current housing stock, and ensuring representation so that hardworking Pennsylvanians and our most vulnerable neighbors can attain and rely on the safety and security of a roof over their head.”

House Bill 2324 includes:

  • $5 million for Right to Counsel for PA tenants.
  • A $10 million increase for the Homelessness Assistance program.
  • A $50 million increase for the Whole Home Repairs program.

“I can’t imagine anything more important for my own children than a safe place to live and a safe school to attend every day,” said state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila. “My responsibility as a legislator and as a parent is to fight for these building blocks that everyone needs to create a life for themselves and their families. That’s why I support funding for housing justice, including right to counsel and Whole Home Repairs in this year’s budget.”

“My district in West and Southwest Philly has felt the brunt of our city and state’s housing crisis,” said state Rep. Rich Krajewski, D-Phila. “Every day, we face the rising cost of rent, a legal system stacked against working class tenants, and violent and unaccountable eviction agents whose status is enshrined in state law. Widespread housing insecurity has devastating ripple effects across the community, from unemployment to educational disparities to the gun violence epidemic.

“I am looking forward to passing a budget that makes further investments in safe and affordable housing, as well as passing commonsense tenant protections like eviction sealing and LLC reform,” he said. “By fighting for every Pennsylvanian’s right to a home, our state legislature can lead the way nationally and provide critical support to countless working families.”

Representatives from the PA Human Relations Commission and the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, along with Dr. Bill Fife of Penn Medicine-Lancaster General Hospital, also spoke at the rally.