Philadelphia seniors stand up for safe housing at Brith Sholom House apartments, where they have faced deplorable conditions

Seniors at Brith Sholom stood up for safe housing conditions
Seniors at Brith Sholom stood up for safe housing conditions

April 12, 2024 – On Friday, tenants of the Brith Sholom House apartments, where more than 150 Philadelphia seniors have endured deplorable conditions, demanded the safe and dignified housing they deserve. The protest was covered in the Philadelphia Inquirer

“We should not be forced out of our homes by neglect and unbearable conditions,” said Marguerite Byrd, spokesperson for the Brith Sholom Tenants’ Council, “The City of Philadelphia needs to step in to save our community. If our landlord continues to refuse to provide safe and healthy housing, this building should be managed by someone who will.”

Seniors living in Brith Sholom experience unacceptable conditions every day: broken plumbing systems, exposed wires, leaking pipes, pest infestations, fire code violations that threaten their safety, and much more. The Department of Licenses and Inspections has found more than 100 serious code violations and designated the building as “an immediate hazard to health, safety, and welfare.”

This 12-story, 360-unit apartment tower—one of the city’s few affordable senior housing complexes—is owned by Brith Sholom Winit L.P.

Brith Sholom House is in receivership, and its owner was ordered to make the needed repairs in a November 15, 2023 injunction from Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Anne Marie Coyle. Progress remains painfully slow, tenants say. The building is set to be sold at Sheriff’s Sale on June 4. Tenants are also concerned about imminent utility shut-offs; the bankruptcy filings revealed that the owner owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid utilities.

Tenants have been organizing for months, hoping for a solution that will provide the dignified housing they deserve and allow them to stay in their homes.

“No matter who owns Brith Sholom going forward, the City needs to prioritize maintaining safe, affordable housing for the seniors living here,” said Janna Goliff, an organizer with Renters’ Justice Collective, which is collaborating with tenants at Brith Sholom. “If they’re evicted or forced out by dangerous conditions, many will have nowhere to go—they’d be the ones paying the price for the shameful neglect they’ve lived through, and that is absolutely unacceptable. At Brith Sholom, tenants want to preserve the community they’ve built and live in safe, dignified housing.”

Councilmember Curtis Jones and State Senator Vincent Hughes are working with tenants and stakeholders to address the deplorable conditions, avoid mass displacement, and preserve Brith Sholom as affordable housing for seniors.