Resolution 2020.10.03: Establish A Housing Committee

Authored: Karim N

Co-sponsored: Daisy C., Heather P., Gabe E., Patrick A., Michele S., Katherine R., Sue C., Elias B., Derek H., Sam D.

Whereas, many cities in the US are facing a historic housing crisis. More than 11 million families spend more than half of their income on rent, and municipal governments are cutting back subsidies and relaxing rent controls.

Whereas, Philadelphia is undergoing a rising housing crisis, being the poorest big city (of largest ten cities) in the US, with 26% of city residents living in poverty. Philadelphia’s unemployment rate continues to be higher than the national average. Meanwhile rents have risen for the fourth year in a row, and the median renter’s income is only $31,000. Philadelphia’s housing costs are unaffordable, since more than half (53.4%) of Philadelphia renters are cost-burdened, meaning they pay over 30% of their income on housing, and 31% are severely cost-burdened, meaning they pay over 50% of their rent on housing, and the city has only 41 affordable units for every 100 extremely low income households.

Whereas, Philadelphia’s housing crisis has resulted in mass permanent houseless resident encampments, squatting campaigns, and community displacement that has captured national attention and media, including this summer’s Camp James Talib-Dean, Camp Teddy, and Camp Azalea.

Whereas, Philly DSA’s recent winning endorsed candidates, including Councilmember Kendra Brooks, State Representative-elect Rick Krajewski, and State Senator-elect Nikil Saval, ran successful campaigns centering rent control as a policy plank.

Whereas, DSA’s 2019 National Convention delegates overwhelmingly passed “Housing as a Human Right” as a priority campaign for the national organization, requiring the organization to “dedicate resources to support tenant organizing and education campaigns,”

Whereas, Philadelphia Housing Authority, currently the primary municipal public agency responsible for ensuring housing is accessible to all Philadelphians, not only fails in its duties but evicts working class residents from their family homes while providing cheap land for private developers.

Whereas, Philadelphia’s average housing costs are unaffordable for minimum wage workers earning $7.25/hour; a person would have to work 106 hours/week at minimum wage to afford a modest one bedroom apartment.

Whereas, the City is only going to change how it mediates the class conflict between landlords and tenants, and chooses to house its citizens, if there is a sustained rebellion from below that is able to disrupt business as usual for the City’s ruling classes.

Whereas, any lifting of the current eviction moratorium will create an immediate eviction and homelessness crisis,

Whereas, houseless encampments will only grow as the City continues to exacerbate the housing crisis while refusing to implement any structural solutions,

Therefore be it resolved, that Philly DSA form an ad-hoc Housing Campaign Coordinating Committee, composed of the resolution’s author as chair and co-sponsors as members, with the following tasks and responsibilities: organize and coordinate the housing-related campaigns undertaken by Philly DSA; research and issue recommendations to the local on housing-related campaigns to be undertaken; organize and coordinate these further housing-related campaigns that the local chooses to undertake; build on ongoing organizing and research to explore longer-term strategic goals around housing security, fighting landlords and slumlords, and decommodifying housing.

Be it further resolved, that the committee will have access to all chapter resources needed to carry out its tasks and responsibilities, including budgetary and communications (bulletins, phone-banking, mass-text, etc.) resources.

Be it finally resolved, the committee shall have a term of 1 year, at which time it will issue a report and recommendations to the general membership on how to best proceed with housing campaigns in Philadelphia.

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