Three House Dems to introduce legislation requiring eviction, foreclosure protections during COVID-19 emergency following U.S. Supreme Court ruling
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 31 – Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler and Rick Krajewski, both D-Phila., and Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny, will introduce legislation to protect Pennsylvanians struggling to stay housed during the ongoing COVID-19 emergency from evictions and foreclosures.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars of unused Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds are still available to tenants and landlords who desperately need the funds,” Fiedler said. “That’s why we will be introducing legislation to protect tenants from evictions related to the COVID-19 emergency. We know that homeowners are still struggling, too, and we know that this legislation would put in place protections for homeowners facing mortgage foreclosure.
“Our legislation would ensure that tenants and homeowners behind on their payments are connected with assistance programs before they are evicted – helping people stay in their home, assisting renters and landlords in paying their bills, and protecting individual and public health,” Fiedler added.
Specifically, the bill would require landlords seeking to evict for nonpayment to first apply for Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds and provide tenants with information about the program in the tenant’s language of choice. It would require courts to grant a continuance of 60 days until the application for rental assistance is approved or denied. It would require mortgage servicers to stop foreclosure proceedings until they are compliant with federal loss mitigation guidelines regarding COVID-19-related forbearances and post-forbearance loss mitigation options, require them to notify Pennsylvania borrowers of programs that can help prevent foreclosure and require they record the language preference of the person facing foreclosure, providing necessary translation and interpretation services. It would also require the Office of the Attorney General to oversee claims from mortgage servicers that have difficulties with compliance.
“This legislation is made even more important by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week to end the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Eviction Moratorium,” Innamorato said. “The court eliminated the last thread of protections for renters, which even if imperfect, was the only thing we had in place to prevent hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania renters from worrying about losing their homes and about where they will live.”
The legislators noted that the court’s ruling regarding evictions does not necessarily apply in Philadelphia, which has its own eviction protections in place.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has not ended,” Krajewski said. “Infection rates are rising at a pace higher than what we were seeing back in January. An eviction at any time is a traumatic experience because it uproots the people and families who make up the fabric of our communities.
“The CDC’s eviction moratorium was an important, lifesaving pause on evictions because eviction and foreclosure moratoria were found to prevent illness and deaths at the height of the pandemic.
“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: endangering their lives and dramatically increasing the threat to public health.”
This is companion legislation to a bill of the same name introduced in the Senate.
The representatives said they look forward to working with their colleagues in both chambers to ensure that Pennsylvanians can stay in their homes.