More legal aid for Housing Court?

In 2013, more than 28,000 families were evicted from their homes in New York City. Because the Constitution does not provide a right to counsel in civil cases, many tenants navigate housing court without the assistance of counsel. In 2014, only 10% of tenants facing eviction had legal representation in housing court.  As a result, many tenants represent themselves in eviction proceedings, often times without understanding the process or how to advocate for themselves in order to keep their apartments. Studies show that tenants are much more successful in avoiding eviction when represented by legal counsel, as compared with 10% of those with legal counsel.

However, the situation may be changing for tenants facing eviction in NYC housing courts.  Mayor De Blasio has allocated more than $13 million to legal aid in eviction proceedings, a doubling of the previous budget. In addition, a bill pending in the City Council would provide an additional $100 million for legal aid.

Increased numbers of legal aid attorneys to help tenants would not only assist tenants in eviction proceedings, but the City’s Independent Budget Office estimates that it would save taxpayers $143 million in shelter services annually.

We will follow and report on new developments on the City Council’s bill.  In the meantime, if you wish to read more about eviction proceedings in New York, you may wish to visit the following:

  1. LawHelpNY (www.lawhelpny.org) – LawHelpNY has state-wide resources and legal information for housing matters. Once you enter your location, click on the Housing section.  Need more help? Click on the green LiveHelp button to chat with one of our operators.
  2. We recently launched the NYC Housing Rights mini-portal to help tenants in NYC facing eviction in Housing Court without an attorney. Click here to access the miniportal or go to the link under “Hot Topics” of the LawHelpNY home page.
  3. Use one of the DIY forms online to help with an answer in an eviction proceeding, vacate a default judgment, or create an order to show cause.
  4. Visit the newly re-designed Court Help website for more information on housing court in New York State.

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