Philadelphia Housing Authority Becomes First in State to Require Vaccines for Employees

(Philadelphia - August 27, 2021) - The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) has become the first housing authority in Pennsylvania to announce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for its approximately 1,200 employees. Under the policy, all employees must show proof of vaccination by October 15th unless they have been exempted to accommodate a medical condition or religious belief.

"PHA has done all it can to protect its residents and employees by offering vaccine and never lifting the mask mandate. We have emphasized the importance of getting the shots, yet our employee vaccination numbers remain low," PHA President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah said. "Now with Covid cases increasing, we felt compelled to protect our co-workers and the residents we serve, especially our seniors and other vulnerable clients."

From the beginning of the pandemic, PHA has placed the safety of residents and employees first. The agency has taken proactive measures to provide a safer environment, including the installation of hand sanitizer dispensers, higher cubicle workstations with protective plexiglass barriers, an improved air filtration system at PHA's headquarters, and temperature monitoring systems. In addition, the housing authority has equipped staff with personal protective gear and strictly enforced deep cleaning and disinfecting protocols as well as  appropriate social distancing and mask guidelines.

PHA, the 4th largest housing Authority in the country, has partnered with Temple University's School of Public Health to hold vaccination clinics at public housing sites to bring the vaccine to residents where they live. Employees were also invited to clinics at housing sites and at PHA's headquarters building, with many staff members taking advantage.  

Temple has a clinic in PHA's Vaux Community Building, about two blocks from PHA's headquarters, at which vaccine shots are available from 9:00 - 4:00 Monday - Thursday.  All vaccines are available, and no appointments are required. Everyone who has not yet received a shot is welcome, not just PHA employees or residents.

"The road to get the virus under control and life back to normalcy is a team effort. That is why we have made receiving the vaccine extremely convenient, including allowing employees to use their work hours to get the shot," Jeremiah said.

Employees who do not comply with the vaccination policy by the deadline will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. The requirement applies to PHA job applicants as well and will be a condition of receiving employment.

"I came to this decision, in part, because of the increasing risks posed by the COVID-19 variants, the number of employees that have been vaccinated to date, the need to protect our workforce and the essential services we provide, and equally important, the need to protect our residents as we carry-out our daily responsibilities," Jeremiah said. "This is a policy I wish we did not have to implement, but we all have a responsibility to protect one another."