Good news on evictions! Recently released numbers from the city show fewer evictions last year compared to 2016. The Mayor’s Office announced a 5% drop between the two years, and a drop of 27% since the city began serious increases in legal service funding for tenants in Housing Court.
There were 21,074 evictions by marshals in 2017, compared to 22,089 in 2016. The biggest reduction was in Brooklyn which saw a drop of 8% in evictions between the two years.
Looking at the eviction numbers for those zip codes covered by Right to Counsel (where tenants facing eviction are entitled to free representation if the household income is below 200% of the federal poverty level) showed some dramatic drops. In the Bronx, the borough with the highest evictions, there was a 15% drop in the two zip codes where tenants have a right to an attorney. In Brooklyn, the two covered zips showed a decrease of 18% in evictions over the last two years. In Jamaica, Queens, the covered areas showed a 13% decline in 2017 compared to 2016.
The marshal’s data on evictions gives us an incomplete picture – many, many households suffer from “informal” evictions. Some people leave when they get the first notice, or leave when the landlord threatens them. Some tenants are undocumented immigrants who fear coming to court. While we cannot say yet that New York City’s Right to Counsel has caused the reduction in evictions, we can be hopeful that as more and more tenants get counsel, fewer will fear coming to Housing Court. Clearly we are on the right track in our struggle for housing justice.
(Note: Right to Counsel will be phased in over the coming five years and currently covers three zip codes in each borough. The eviction data on individual zip codes is not as reliable as the city-wide and borough-wide numbers provided by the NYC Department of Investigations.)