Current Cases & Projects

Standing up for safe senior housing at Brith Sholom House

Seniors living in the Brith Sholom House apartment building in Wynnefield Heights–one of Philadelphia’s few affordable senior housing complexes–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 […]

Pittsburgh neighborhood organizations head to court to defend inclusionary zoning, affordable housing, and diverse neighborhoods

Pittsburgh is facing an escalating crisis in housing affordability. In response, the City passed an inclusionary zoning ordinance this spring. The Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh is seeking to block this law in federal court in a lawsuit filed May 12, 2022. Today, the people of Pittsburgh are fighting back. Organizations representing neighborhoods where housing costs are soaring filed a motion to intervene in the case and defend inclusionary zoning, affordable housing, and diverse communities.

Renters United / Inquilinxs en la Lucha Philadelphia

Update: After more than four years of growth and development, Renters United Philadelphia now operates completely independently of the Public Interest Law Center, joining One Pennsylvania’s citywide housing justice network. The Law Center continues to collaborate with RUP in their work helping renters assert their right to quality housing, and our attorneys and legal interns […]

Taking on source of income discrimination in Philadelphia

The widespread refusal to take housing assistance keeps low-income renters concentrated in disadvantaged neighborhoods, disproportionately affects black families, and undercuts the point of the Housing Choice Voucher program.

Tenant Advocacy Project

We target the severe power imbalance in Philadelphia between tenants and their landlords, as 91% of tenants face evictions without lawyers.

Ending Exploitative Eviction Practices by Collection Lawyers

We filed a class action lawsuit seeking to give meaning to the legal protections Philadelphia enacted to protect vulnerable renters from unsafe housing. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a low-income tenant named Cassandra Baker and others like her. The complaint alleges her landlord’s collection lawyer, like many landlord lawyers, used misleading debt collection practices while attempting to evict her and force her to pay rent she did not owe, and that those practices violated federal law.

Gerrell Martin v. Levy Law: Fighting for Renters in Landlord-Tenant Court

More than 24,000 Philadelphians are sued in Landlord-Tenant Court each year. While 81% of landlords have lawyers, most tenants—over 90%—do not. This results in a dramatic power imbalance, leaving low-income families afraid of complaining about the conditions of their homes, lest they risk facing an eviction lawsuit, where they will likely have to fend for themselves. Gerrell Martin and her family, represented by attorneys at the Public Interest Law Center, are trying to turn this dynamic on its head, arguing that the collection lawyer representing her landlord violated federal law.

Fraud Against Person With Disabilities

The Law Center is representing MW, a Philadelphia man with intellectual disabilities who was deceived into selling his home for .05% of its market value – a grand total of $25. MW has intellectual disabilities, and his ability to read is extremely limited. His parents left the home to his brother, and after MW’s brother died the home deteriorated around him. He lived without electricity, heat, or water until he moved into a group home nearby.

Legal Right to Safe and Healthy Housing – Vazquez v. Gilbert

A low-income Philadelphia renter is standing up for her legal right to live in safe and healthy housing, alleging that her landlord and property manager rented her a property that did not have heat, was infested with rodents, and had raw sewage leaking in the basement. The lawsuit alleges violations of state and local laws which are not used enough because they are not well known and there are too few lawyers for poor tenants to enforce those laws.

Sharswood Eminent Domain Proceedings

The Philadelphia Housing Authority and its agent, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, have identified over 1,000 properties in the Sharswood/Blumberg neighborhood that it seeks to take through eminent domain proceedings.