Councilmember Helen Gym: Everybody’s top priority is ensuring public safety and meeting urgent needs.

Continuing our fall City Council preview, Hall Monitor spoke with Councilmember Helen Gym about her priorities for the upcoming council session.

Councilmember-At-Large Helen Gym

“We have more money in our policing budget than at any time in history. We have expanded the policing budget by over 25%. Based on the budget alone, we should be the safest city in America, and that is clearly not the case right now.”

“Every single Philadelphian deserves to live their lives free from the threat and fear of gun violence. And that’s why we’ve been calling for a laser focus on the 57 blocks, ten zip codes, and 25 schools that have been most impacted.

“We need to continue with things that go beyond policing. We need to address violence at its source. That’s why we’ve been very active on targeted campaigns around getting equitable city services into places-cleaning up vacant lots, repairing streetlights, picking up trash, and ensuring young people are being cared for and served.”

“We’ve been working closely with our city agencies on a pilot discharge program for young people who are leaving detention centers and going back to their communities. We want to ensure their needs are met, their families have been engaged in the exit process, and there’s a plan to move forward.”

“We’re at the beginning of the school year, but half of the are closed already because the buildings can’t handle the heat. No child should go into a classroom where the temperature can reach 90 degrees.”

“We want to ensure we have school safety zones with increased police patrol around schools and in violence-impacted neighborhoods. I will also continue to ensure we have responsible staffing in schools so that young people start the year supported with schools and their teachers ready to go.”

“Poverty is not just a number-it’s not how much you earn in an hour or a year or how much you earn in a year. It’s actually a lived experience, and one of the most common experiences of those living in poverty is eviction.”

“Pre-pandmeic, Philadelphia was the fourth highest-evicting city in the country-almost 22,000 eviction a year. That’s basically 500 per week, 100 per day. If you even made it to a courtroom, you’d, maybe, get ten minutes in from of a judge to plead your case.”

“Over the last several years, Philadelphia has been engaged in one of the most successful efforts to reduce poverty-based evictions here in by almost 70%.”

“We are looking to introduce a package on the first day of council to protect both people who are seeking abortion care and those who provide it.”

“That means protecting the privacy first and foremost of those seeking care in Philadelphia. We want people to know when they come to this city, their rights are protected, and their privacy is valued and upheld.”

“We hope to pass a really important law protecting foster children’s rights, to getting their do their due benefits.”

“This is a policy that was here in Philadelphia, but actually exists all across the country. It’s not unique to Philadelphia, but you know, foster care children. If they have survivor’s benefits, they’re supposed to be allocated to them.”

“But in fact, most municipalities just sweep them into the general fund. So we’re gonna, we’re gonna look to end that practice here in our city, we’re gonna campaign to make sure that that practices ended at our state.”

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