Tenants’ “free” legal reps could cost NYC up to $256M

Cost of proposed housing court program might be twice what City Council estimates: report

TRD New York /
Dec.December 15, 2014 04:04 PM

The city could rack up an annual bill of up to $256 million to provide free legal representation to low-income tenants in Housing Court – more than double the amount estimated by City Council, according to a new report from the Independent Budget Office.

A group of more than 30 lawmakers signed onto a bill that would assign a lawyer to some renters facing eviction.

So far this year, 10 percent of tenants in this situation had legal representation, Crain’s reported. In comparison, ninety percent of landlords had counsel.

The Independent Budget Office said it expected the legal services to cost the city between $100 million and $200 million for households comprising as much as 125 percent of the federal poverty level, the publication said. The Council introduced the bill in June, as previously reported.

City Council member Mark Levine and a group of lawyers criticized the report and called for a closer look at potential cost savings. [Crain’s]Mark Maurer

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