On Monday, April 6th, the WYL team had a meeting in Philadelphia. While I won’t disclose which organization we met with (and it makes no difference), the information we learned about how public housing is handled in Philly made us sick to our stomachs.

A few quick items to note:

  • There are three forms of public housing in Philly: Section 8, Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), and Community Development Corporations (CDCs)

 

  • Currently, there are 100,000 families on the waiting list for access to Public Housing via PHA.
  • The waiting list is so long, it’s been cut off. Therefore, there is a waiting list…for the waiting list.

 

  • When applying for maintenance request, the wait list is up to 5 years for a requested issue. I’m sorry, but black mold in your basement is not a 5-year maintenance problem…

 

  • If you’re part of the “lucky” few, and I use lucky extremely loosely, to get housing through the Philadelphia Housing Authority, you are completely resigned to the house they give you. In an attempt to get out of the lease or move to a safer location, your PHA privileges are revoked and you are banned from PHA for life.

The Problem

These items of note are extremely sad. Many landlords clamor to get into public housing in order to receive a consistent check from the government due to subsidized affordable living. Although these landlords are required to take a course in order to deem them eligible and ready to provide public housing, many divert away from their call to action to be upstanding, quality home providers in order to make more money. This most commonly happens by using cheap labor for repairs or even avoiding basic upgrades. While this isn’t true for all, it’s true for a lot. And, it’s quite sad that the government has their hands tied up in so many other issues that landlords that go unchecked, literally, continue to go unchecked.

 

No Accountability

Here, I’ve quickly rattled off some stats about Philadelphia; but, this is true all across the US. There’s the recent legal settlement that our partners at the NYC Gov (Public Advocates) were able to bring about, after tons of NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) residents complained about the lack of heat being provided in the winter. Growing up, my mom would tell me how much she absolutely hated the cold because, during part of her childhood growing up in Brooklyn, the heat was rarely used in her building. She would always say, “I could see my breath while inside my apartment.”

The Solution

It’s easy for most citizens to turn a blind eye towards the issues occurring in our communities; but, that’s not the right thing to do. WYL works hard to highlight great living situations and poor ones so that people are well educated and armed with relevant information. Contribute your thoughts and help the #wylcommunity by reviewing your home provider, today.

Written By

Ofo Ezeugwu (@ofoezeugwu) is the CEO & Chieftain of WhoseYourLandlord. He graduated from Temple University (shout out to N. Philly!), where he was the VP of the student body and also the university's youngest alumni convocation speaker ever. He's a Techstars'​ Risingstar, one of BET's #30Under30, a Black Enterprise: Modern Man, and his work has been featured in Newsweek, TechCrunch, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, MSNBC, and more. Ofo is based in NYC/PHL and is also a professional actor and model who's walked in NYFW, been featured on the Today Show six times, and worked with Nike, ESPN, and Alfani. Ofo is also very actively plugged into the community and speaks with local high schools and middle schools on leadership, college planning, entrepreneurship, and life skills. He's a Big in the Big Brothers Big Sisters entrepreneurial program. And, he's also spoken on tech - entrepreneurship - and leadership at prestigious universities and institutions such as The White House, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Penn, Temple, Villanova, etc. He lives by the motto, "No steps backward; just forward progress."