City Councilmember Derek Green

At-large City Councilmember Derek Green highlights his bill to update the requirements for asbestos and mold standards in Philadelphia public schools during a news conference.—PHOTO COURTESY OF DEREK GREEN

City Council kicked off their new session by introducing a number of resolutions to hold hearings on a range of issues including funding healthier Philadelphia public school buildings, the impact of tangled titles and the shortage of trauma counselors for gun violence victims.

At-large Councilmember Helen Gym has a resolution to hold hearings on a plan to fund a comprehensive remediation and modernization of Philadelphia public school buildings to address major facilities flaws.

“Parents at school after school in this city have been ringing the alarm on the deplorable conditions of our school buildings — leaking roofs, 95-degree classrooms, nonexistent ventilation, continually flaking lead paint, asbestos remediation — all of us know the list goes on and on,” she said during the virtual meeting held Thursday.

“And that is why I glad that our Council bodies are coming together to talk about what it would look to fund a comprehensive remediation and modernization process for our city’s public school buildings.”

“There is no question that the School District of Philadelphia has put forward hundreds of millions of dollars, has invested and expanded their facilities in the last several years, but what we know is that is work at the margins is simply not enough,” Gym continued. “It’s not enough to do repairs. We need a large scale modernization plan.”

At-large Councilmember Derek Green has introduced a bill to update the requirements for asbestos and mold standards in Philadelphia schools.

“We have tried to put our trust in the school district but time and time and again that trust has not been there,” he said. “So we as a city need to take an active role in addressing this issue going forward because we don’t want to be in a situation where one of our loved ones or our children come back years later and now they’ve been diagnosed with asbestos based on action that we should have taken.”

At large Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson has a resolution calling for hearings on tangled titles in Philadelphia. Her Tangled Title Disclosure Bill requires funeral homes to share information about probating estates and avoiding tangled titles when they provide a death certificate.

Richardson said that more than $1 billion in generational wealth is currently caught up in tangled titles.

“By providing information about probating estates and how a title becomes tangled with death certificates, we will be educating residents about the proper next steps and reducing the number of people who end up with a tangled title,” she said in a statement.

Council approved Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson’s resolution authorizing the Special Committee on Gun Violence to conduct hearings to examine the shortage of trauma counseling services and its impact on victims and co-victims of gun violence.

Councilmember Cherelle Parker, D-9th District, has a resolution to hold public hearings to examine the relationship between public safety and the economic vitality of neighborhood commercial corridors.

During the meeting, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, D-3rd District, said she plans to focus on addressing Philadelphia’s housing affordability crisis.

She joined the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities at a rally to highlight the importance of putting vacant land in community hands.

“The city is sitting on a massively valuable asset — more than 5,000 parcels of surplus vacant land that can provide transformational impact to our neighborhoods,” she said during the Council meeting.

“By using this land for purposes that are beneficial to communities like affordable housing or community gardens we can assure that neighborhoods across Philadelphia benefit from publicly held land for generations to come. That’s why I plan to introduce legislation that would give grassroots Community Land Trusts a leg up in the competition to acquire city owned land.”

“We want to make sure that the city does its part to put vacant land toward uses that would truly prioritize communities and their best interests rather than profit,” Gauthier said.

She also seeks to move forward on the Mixed-Income Neighborhoods Overlay bill that would require developers building new properties with 10 or more units to have a 20% affordability component.

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