The Real Deal New York

Free lawyers for tenants in Housing Court? It could happen

City Council bill would require no-charge legal representation for Bronx residents facing eviction
June 05, 2014 10:25AM

A new bill that is being proposed in the city council could offer free legal representation in Housing Court to Bronx residents who are facing eviction.

The proposed bill follows some other recent changes in Housing Court, including a bilingual slideshow and mandatory IDs for court personnel. These changes are all meant to make Housing Court a more understandable process for residents who get lost in the layers of bureaucracy in the chaotic building.

Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson is one of 33 lawmakers who co-sponsored the new bill, which would provide free legal representation for low-income residents facing eviction, the Daily News reported.

“Housing Court’s complex system is a burden for low-income tenants who do not have a lawyer, and puts them at a disadvantage that often leads to preventable evictions,” Fitzroy Christian, a leader with Community Action for Safe Apartments told the Daily News. “A large percentage of NYC tenants are taken advantage of by scum landlords who use Housing Court as their weapon.”

According to CASA, roughly 11,000 families are evicted from their Bronx homes annually. [NYDN] — Claire Moses