Philadelphia Couple Forced to Flee Squalid Conditions Sues ABC Capital, One of the City's Largest Landlords
 
Philly row houses
Flickr user Melody Joy Kramer
Rosa Correa and Michael Hamilton, a low-income young couple forced to abandon their north Philadelphia home because of squalid and dangerous living conditions, are suing ABC Capital, one the city's largest landlords. We are representing them, along with pro bono lawyers Matthew A. White and Michael R. McDonald from Ballard Spahr LLP.

Ms. Correa and Mr. Hamilton faced squalid living conditions throughout their 18 months living in the home: water shutoffs, broken windows, raw sewage in the basement, and more. After continuously requesting that their property manager fix these serious issues - and getting little but threats of eviction in response - the couple was forced to leave the property and find a new place to live. They are suing ABC Capital in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for constructive eviction - causing intolerable living conditions that forced them to move - and deceptive consumer practices. 
ABC Capital, with 1,300 Philadelphia properties in its portfolio, offers investors "a totally passive way to hold Real Estate. No physical or administrative involvement is required from our clients."

"Our clients were forced to move after over a year of living in unbearable conditions caused by a company that sends millions of dollars a year in rent to anonymous passive LLC investors," Law Center attorney George Donnelly said. "That is absolutely shameful."

 
After Election Day, the Fight Against Gerrymandering Must Continue
 
2018 Congressional District Map
2018 Congressional District Map
On November 6, Pennsylvania held its first general election using the fair and constitutional map established after our successful challenge to partisan gerrymandering. 

Voters picked their representatives, not the other way around, thanks to the Law Center and our co-counsel Arnold & Porter, the League of Women Voters of PA, and 18 voter petitioners from each congressional district. 

The fight against partisan gerrymandering is not over. In 2021, after the US Census in 2020, Pennsylvania will go through another redistricting process, and we will work to ensure that this process is both fair and transparent. We will also continue to join activists across the state to advocate for a permanent reform to partisan gerrymandering, like an independent citizens' commission. To learn more about these upcoming efforts, read this letter, "Why the Fight Against Gerrymandering Must Continue," from a group of our redistricting lawsuit petitioners.

Thank You to Everyone Who Supported Us on Giving Tuesday!
 
Thank you your support on Giving Tuesday

We are so grateful to all of our supporters for making this Giving Tuesday a great one! Thanks to your support, and a group of generous matching donors, we raised over $25,000 to support our mission in just one day. You are all amazing! If you feel inspired to keep the momentum going for civil, social and economic rights, you can still donate before the end of the year to help us prepare to take on the cases and campaigns that will make the most impact.

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Eastwick Weighs in on Proposed Development Strategy that Could Increase the Risk of Flooding
 
Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition
Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition
After a two-year community-based land study process, Philadelphia's Interface Studio, a planning firm hired by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, released the Eastwick Public Lands Strategy on July 26. The document lays out a strategy with options for mixed-use development - residential, open space and commercial space - for about 200 acres in the Eastwick neighborhood.

The Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) submitted a public comment in response to the strategy document on October 31, prepared with facilitation from us. In their comment, they express concern that the strategy does not thoroughly and convincingly address flooding threats, an important consideration in their low-lying community amid many marshes and wetlands. With climate change increasing extreme weather events, flood mitigation is more important than ever. The neighbors of EFNC were disappointed that the safety of the community was not a central concern of the plan. EFNC is also pursuing negotiations with a national conservation organization to purchase an ecologically sensitive land tract and donate it to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. 

We have been working with the Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition for several years to ensure that members of the community have equitable and meaningful participation in the planning for any future development in Eastwick. The southwest Philadelphia neighborhood faced an urban renewal project in the 1950s that displaced 10,000 people.

Bring Our Special Education Expertise to Your Community: Learn About Services to Prepare for Life After High School
 
Darlene Hemerka_ Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Greenberg Traurig_ LLP.
Darlene Hemerka, Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Greenberg Traurig LLP.
Preparing for adult life is a crucial component of any secondary education. Under federal and state law, students with disabilities have the right to receive transition services to help them prepare for life after high school starting at age 14 and continuing until age 21. Unfortunately, many parents and educators are unaware of this requirement, and too many students do not receive the preparation they need to successfully transition to adult life. How do we make sure that students are getting what they need?

We offer free community presentations on the ins and outs of the law and students' rights to meaningful transition services.  If you are part of a group of teachers, parents, or advocates who would like to learn more about transition services for students with disabilities, contact our Equal Justice Works fellow Darlene Hemerka at dhemerka@pubintlaw.org to schedule a presentation.  Darlene will travel!


Foundation Spotlight: Leo & Peggy Pierce Family Foundation

We would like to take a moment to recognize one of the foundation supporters that make our work possible: the Leo & Peggy Piece Family Foundation. The Leo & Peggy Pierce Family foundation seeks to end hunger and food insecurity in the Philadelphia region and Indian River County, FL. Their support for our Garden Justice Legal Initiative allows us to provide legal and strategic support for community gardens and market farms, primarily in communities of color and disinvested neighborhoods in Philadelphia, driving policies that systemically increase long-term access to land and food. Thank you so much!