NORRISTOWN — Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and continuous instances of winter weather, Norristown leaders pushed for the creation of legislation that would suspend foreclosures and evictions.
Norristown Municipal Council President Derrick Perry told colleagues and others present during the Feb. 2 meeting that he’s received phone calls from constituents regarding experiences of eviction notices during this time.
“It shouldn’t sit well with you, and it definitely doesn’t sit well with me,” he said earlier this month.
Solicitor Sean Kilkenny expressed similar concerns after hearing that “deputies were evicting someone on Swede Street.”
Kilkenny, who also serves as Montgomery County’s sheriff, said that “as sheriff, all evictions will go through me personally until April.”
Kilkenny shared there are provisions for tenants included in COVID-19 relief budget that was passed by Congress on Dec. 31, 2020. Specifically, a person cannot be evicted if they show a landlord a form from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Kilkenny.
However, Kilkenny did express some apprehension and wanted to offer assistance to area residents.
“Before we go ahead and do this, I’m going to make sure that anybody that is potentially being evicted is counseled on this law, given the opportunity to sign a form and prevent the eviction from the federal government,” Kilkenny said earlier this month.
Local leaders aim to reach out to their counterparts at the state and federal levels to further discuss the matter of putting legislation in place to codify these principals.
“I usually don’t mix my role as sheriff and solicitor, but I want to personally thank you [Perry] for calling me and bringing this to my attention because I was disgusted,” Kilkenny said.
Perry worried about the municipality’s senior residents. He recalled receiving a phone call from a couple who said they were “evicted out of their place because they reported to me and I reported to code to reach out to the land owner to make sure that stuff was getting fixed in our community just for somebody to live in our community that’s OK and they decided that number one and Amrinder can talk about this, they didn’t even reach back out to our code department and they blew our code department off and evicted the people out of it. So what does that say about who we are?”
Amrinder Singh serves as Norristown’s code enforcement manager and building code official.
In the meantime, Municipal Administrator Crandall Jones noted funds that were allocated through a community development block grant specifically for a partnership with Legal Aid.
Councilman Hakim Jones added that ACLAMO and CADCOM received federal funding last year via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The two organizations are also part of Montgomery County’s Your Way Home Emergency Rent & Utility Coalition.
“I think that this is important to discuss. So thank you President Perry for bringing it to us,” said Councilwoman Rebecca Smith. “How can we get other communities to pass similar legislation?”
Kilkenny then offered to send the information regarding Norristown’s efforts to the other 27 municipalities that his firm, Kilkenny Law, represents, as well state and federal representatives.
Additionally, Councilwoman Valerie Moman opted to mention the initiative to the National League of Cities, where she sits as a member of the board of directors.
The resolution passed in a 6-0 vote. Councilwoman Heather Lewis was absent from the Feb. 2 meeting.