BUCKS COUNTY – May 13, 2020 – Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) joined with Senator Katie Muth (D-44) and their Democratic colleagues in the Senate and 39 Democratic House members today to request that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issue an order staying all eviction and foreclosure proceedings until 90 days after a county is moved from the red phase to the yellow phase of reopening.
The letter highlights the concerns of Sens. Santarsiero and Muth, and their Democratic colleagues, that a stay on evictions and foreclosures until a specific date will not adequately protect Pennsylvanians whose counties were among the first to shut down and will remain in the red phase for a longer period of time. Currently, an Executive Order from Governor Tom Wolf extends a stay on foreclosures and evictions through July 10th.
“Governor Wolf’s order to prevent foreclosures and evictions is a good step forward in providing a safety net for Pennsylvanians during these unprecedented times. I applaud the Governor and the Attorney General for their leadership on this issue; however, I believe we still need to address the hardships faced by Pennsylvanians in counties that remain in the red phase of mitigation,” said Sen. Santarsiero. “A single date for lifting the stay state-wide will have the unintended consequence of putting residents in places like Bucks County at a disadvantage. During an already stressful time, Pennsylvanians who have been out of work should know that they have some time to recover financially before they can face a possible foreclosure or eviction. Furthermore, the current stay needs to be extended to commercial evictions and foreclosures. Our small businesses need this relief so that they can get back on their feet when we enter the yellow phase without the risk of losing their stores or offices.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented unemployment rates as well as numerous small businesses struggling to survive. This puts both individuals and “mom and pop” business owners in a dire financial situation with many who are struggling to pay their mortgages or rents,” said Sen. Muth. “Our job, as legislators, is to make sure we are advocating for regulation and creating laws that would directly benefit those we are elected to represent. Our request protects Pennsylvanian homes and businesses no matter what county they are in and gives people options on how to manage the diverse range of financial problems this pandemic has instigated. Ultimately, it gives a voice to so many who feel left behind.”
“As Pennsylvanians continue to face the realities of a life-threatening pandemic, economic hardship and uncertainty, the last thing they should be worried about is losing the roof over their heads,” Senator Maria Collett (D-12) said. “Extending the stay on evictions and foreclosures will provide families, workers, and small businesses much-needed peace of mind.”
“We cannot compound the devastation Pennsylvanians have experienced by immediately moving to kick people out of their homes and businesses when the governor’s order expires,” Senator Vincent Hughes (D-7) said. “Many of these folks have been waiting on assistance that has been insufficient, delayed or has not come at all. That is why it is critical that we are mindful of the realities that people are facing and show some measure of compassion as a response to this crisis.”
“The recovery of Pennsylvania’s economy is inextricably linked to the survival of our small business communities,” Senator Sharif Street (D-3) said. “The livelihoods of our displaced workforce and small business owners depend on how much time they are afforded to recover economically. We must ensure their stability by providing protection from foreclosure and eviction for 90 days past the critical phase of this pandemic, unique to each county.”
“The extension of the moratorium on evictions is important to help our renters receive much-needed, temporary relief,” Senator John Blake (D-22) said. “The moratorium on evictions should, however, also apply to our commercial renters trying to keep their business in business. It is also important to reassure our landlords that any forbearance on current payments must ultimately be made by renters in accordance with binding rental agreements or leases.”
The full text of the letter to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court can be found here.