Philly family evicted days before coronavirus crisis hit city struggles to find housing amid citywide restrictions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia family of five was evicted from their housing days before the coronavirus restrictions went in place. They explain it’s expensive to live when you have no place to stay. 

“You have to make a lot of decisions by the seat of your pants because you have to respond to issues right now, right now, not later,” said Charlyn Griffith-Oro, a longtime community organizer. 

She said her family was evicted from their home inside of a co-op over a maintenance dispute just days before the city’s moratorium on evictions was put in place. 

While they have some savings, she said housing insecurity means you must spend more on everything from shelter to food and more. 

“We really need to talk about how expensive it is to be helpless,” she said. “We had to spend $1,000 for an Airbnb for two weeks. Our rent was $1,100.”

“The moratorium from the courts was very important, but unfortunately, it was only one piece of the puzzle,” said Rachel Garland, an attorney who works in the housing unit for Community Legal Services. 

Garland noted that while the Philadelphia courts halnted all evictions on Monday, families looking for stable housing during the coronavirus crisis will have major issues.

“Realtors are closing up shop,” she said, “and landlords may be reluctant to enter new leases with tenants who have an unstable work history, and everyone does not have control over their income right now.”

Garland said the tenant hotline at 267-443-2500 can link families to resources and services. 

Montgomery County has also set up a fund to help those in need of rent money so they can avoid evictions.

Meanwhile, Griffith-Oro said the coronavirus health crisis restrictions make it dangerous in some cases for friends and family to take them in, making the problem worse.

“It’s surreal. It’s surreal. It really puts you in a survival mode,” she said, “even when you have support and people around you who support you.”

She and her family started a GoFundMe to pay for a permanent housing solution.