SeniorLAW Center joined Neighborhood Legal Services, The Community Justice Project, Action-Housing,Inc., Pittsburgh United, Pittsburgh Union of Regional Renters, and Tenants Union Representative Network in an amicus brief supporting Governor Wolf’s moratorium on evictions during the COVID-19 crisis. When Governor Wolf declared an emergency in the face of the deadly Coronavirus, he enacted a section of the Commonwealth’s laws which gives him expansive power to deal with a crisis, including the power to stem the spread of illness.
A group of landlords has challenged the Governor’s moratorium on grounds he exceeded his authority.
Health is dependent on housing. Our clients — older Pennsylvanians — are most at risk from this virus. Asking them to travel on public transportation into crowded courtrooms put their health and lives at risk, creates numerous opportunities for transmission of the virus and jeopardizes this most vulnerable population. Going into court for in- person proceedings will jeopardize not only tenants but landlords and the public at large. Videoconferencing via remote hearings for many of our clients is impractical, as many have limited technology. The digital divide affecting both older and low-income communities remains an obstacle to due process. The pandemic has also left low-and-moderate income tenants unable to pay rent.
The loss of housing, imminent homelessness, forcing our residents onto the street, doubling up and “couch-surfing” with friends or family members, or or into cramped city shelters will only contribute to the spread of this virus.
We proudly join advocates in this amicus brief affirming the governor’s proper exercise of his authority to keep the citizens of the Commonwealth safe.