Evictions down 20% in parts of NYC where tenants get free lawyers

Drop is fueling a push to expand the city’s Right to Counsel law

New York /
Feb.February 24, 2020 10:15 AM
Evictions are going down in parts of the city where Right to Counsel applies, sparking a push to expand the law. (Credit: iStock)

Evictions are down in parts of the city where Right to Counsel applies, sparking a push to expand the law. (Credit: iStock)

Evictions in areas where low-income tenants received city-funded legal services funded dropped by almost 20 percent last year, according to an analysis from the nonprofit Community Service Society of New York.

The drop took place in the 20 New York ZIP codes targeted by the 2017 Right to Counsel law, according to The City. The program is being expanded to provide free housing court legal services across the city by 2022, and the City Council is considering broadening eligibility for the program.

The current law sets the income eligibility limit at 200 percent of the federal poverty level, but the City Council is discussing whether to expand this to 400 percent. Members are also looking at mandating education to better inform tenants of their rights in Housing Court.

“It’s really, really difficult — close to impossible — for unrepresented people to navigate their way through Housing Court proceedings in any way, shape or form,” Andrew Scherer, New York Law School’s policy director of the Impact Center for Public Interest Law, told The City. “It’s a complex body of law, and in these proceedings, almost all of the landlords are represented by counsel. So they’ve always been unfair.” [The City– Eddie Small


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