In July, Mayor de Blasio signed Intro 214 giving tenants facing eviction in New York City to Right to Counsel.
This action follows years of advocacy by Housing Court Answers and the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition. We celebrate the leadership of the New York City Council – particularly Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson – and the members of the Coalition. New York City becomes the first city in the nation to have a civil right to counsel in eviction cases.
Many are asking: How will it work? When can I get a lawyer?
It will take some time to get everyone who needs a lawyer legal representation. While the law is on the books, the legal service providers do not yet have the staff to take on everyone who needs representation.
The city plans to roll out the legal help over five years, adding representation by zip code. Today, tenants in the Expanded Legal Services zip codes, with a household income below 200% of the federal poverty level, are eligible. But that program only covers three zip codes per borough. Those boundaries will be expanding over the next five years.
As of this writing, landlords sue close to 200,000 tenants a year in Housing Court. The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition has not stopped working – we will continue advocating and educating and organizing to make sure that we stop preventable evictions. You can stay in touch with the RTC Coalition through its website and email list