CB3 Backs Bill Providing Right to Counsel for Low-Income Tenants Facing Eviction

Posted on: November 20th, 2015 at 5:17 am by

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81 Bowery in 2013, Photo: Annie Ling

There is an eight-month-old bill making its way through City Council that could help stem the rising tide of homelessness. At last count, more than 58,000 people are in the shelter system, according to a recent New York Times article, plus many more on the streets. By attacking one root cause – evictions – two Councilmembers hope to alleviate the issue.

Indeed, last March, Councilmembers Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson introduced “Intro 214,” legislation aimed at providing assistance to predominantly low-income New Yorkers facing “evictions, ejectment, or foreclosure proceedings.” Close to 30,000 households are reportedly evicted by City Marshals each year, and still others face threats of eviction from asshole landlords.

The stakes are higher for those low-income tenants who might not have access (i.e. the funds) to proper housing attorneys. Intro 214 seeks to end this by guaranteeing counsel to households residing below 200% of federal poverty guidelines in both eviction and foreclosure cases. The bill is not yet signed, but public advocates are seeking broad support from the community.

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Formed in 2014, the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition is at the forefront of the fight. It’s a grassroots melting pot composed of tenant organizing groups, tenant advocates, and legal services groups whose bread-and-butter is the subject of said legislation. Their mission statement charges that “we are working together to ensure that our city’s housing courts are a place of fairness, justice, and equity.”

Representatives from RTC sought further support of Intro 214 from Community Board 3 this week. They got what they came for – unanimous backing from the Land-use subcommittee, to the soundtrack of public applause. (The resolution below was apparently drafted by the Borough President.)

Intro 214 CB Draft Resolution

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