By Alex Casper (they them)
Early in August , Seattle Socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant brought forward legislation to set universal rent control to cap rent increases with inflation. Cornel West, running for the Green Party nomination for president, endorsed the plan. Hundreds of tenants, workers, and union members packed the Seattle City Hall to where attendance was standing room only, but the Democratic Party led city council struck down the bill.
Green Party of Pennsylvania
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 24, 2023
Chris Robinson, Communication Team Co-Leader, [email protected]
West called this bill a “moral imperative,” and I agree. The impact of stabilizing rent to the current rate of inflation in Seattle would be a 4.6% annual increase. Last year the average rent increased at 9.9% according to Apartment List. The year before it increased 18.9% in the region. This type of rent increase is unsustainable for a community and will displace residents through gentrification. In Philadelphia, between June 2022 and June 2023, the region saw a rate of inflation of 3.1%. But the rental cost inflated 4.5% this year and 6.8% from the year before according to Apartment List. Greater Philadelphia saw rental costs inflate by 9.4% in 2022. The Pittsburgh Metro saw a rent inflation rate of 3.1% in the past year, and 8.8% the year before. As of now, this rent control policy will not impact Pittsburgh as the price of rent has not increased as fast as other parts of Pennsylvania. Considering how New Yorkers came to Philadelphia with the three-hour commute to escape high rent, leading to gentrification here, the long term outlook could see Philadelphians looking to move across the state to Johnstown, Pittsburgh, and other more affordable towns with decent public transit systems and healthcare access leading to their prices also increasing down the road.
48% of Greater Philadelphia’s renters are cost burdened. We have a 20 year long waitlist for public housing in Philadelphia. From my own personal calls, every non-profit is out of funding for rental assistance. So at this rate, people will go homeless, and the rate of death of our homeless community will continue to increase. Last year over 311 homeless people died in Philadelphia in 2020 -- more than every other city in the U.S. besides Los Angeles and New York.
It is a murderous policy to leave people unsheltered and without public services such as housing and the social workers they need to access mental health benefits and resources. It keeps victims of domestic violence afraid of economic consequences to flee home, and it costs our economy more to keep people homeless than it would cost to just house people. As a Philadelphian who has been homeless twice. I applaud Seattle workers and tenants for fighting for their rights to be able to afford to stay housed in the community they work and seek medical services in. I applaud Cornel West for taking a stance on housing affordability.
I support Universal Rent Control and I hope to see more initiatives be supported by Cornel West and elected officials focused on addressing our housing crisis, reducing the cost of housing, and preventing and ending homelessness. It is clear that we need an alternative to the two corporate parties, if we want to see these types of policies be seriously addressed. Neither major party will support people being able to afford to stay in their homes or address homelessness. Seattle City Council being led by the Democratic Party voting against rent control shows us this is the case. 185 people died in Kings County, WA, in 2020, and Seattle Democrat’s said it’s okay to not address the leading cause of housing insecurity.
Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans have been just as silent to my neighbors dying preventable deaths. This week Democrats just reinstated a deadly Landlord Tenant Officer system in Philadelphia, which has resulted in three shootings in four months this year to continue doing evictions to violently unhouse Philadelphians and make them homeless at the orders of Democratic and Republican Party judges. Elected leaders have power as a collective to take direct action to enable change with the support of public tax collected funds. The only dividend they give us in return for those tax investments are neocolonialist wars and state sponsored militias to shoot you for any potential dispute to being forcibly removed from your home for being laid off or disabled.
Alex Casper (they/them) is a delegate to the Green Party of Pennsylvania, membership secretary of the Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP), and the GPOP representative of the Philadelphia Rent Control Coalition. They also serve in the Reimagine Philadelphia Steering Committee in the Philadelphia Department of Planning and Development, and as a Minority Inspector in Philadelphia Election Ward 47.
The Green Party of Pennsylvania is an independent political party which stands in opposition to the two corporate parties. GPPA candidates promote public policy based on the Green Party’s Four Pillars: grassroots democracy, nonviolence, ecological wisdom, and social justice/equal opportunity.
For more Information:
“Green Party Joins Philadelphia Rent Control Coalition,” Green Party of Philadelphia News Release, July 19, 2023,
Philadelphia Rent Control Coalition,
Philadelphia Tenants Union,
“Rent Control,” Green Party Platform, II. Social Justice; J. Housing & Homelessness;