NYC Tenants, Advocates Celebrate Historic ‘Right to Counsel’ Victory

New York City tenants just won a huge victory.

Grassroots tenant organizers & advocates are celebrating a major win as the New York City Council voted to establish Right to Counsel — the first legislation in the U.S. which will require universal legal services for tenants facing eviction.

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Grassroots tenant advocates from organizations like CASA, Los Sures, and Flatbush Tenant Coalition, joined New York City elected officials to celebrate historic passage of ‘Right to Counsel’ which guarantees legal services for tenants facing eviction. [Photo courtesy of Flatbush Tenant Coalition.]
Right to Counsel, also known as Intro 214-B, will officially require the Office of Civil Justice Coordinator to establish programs to provide all tenants facing eviction with access to legal services within five years. Low-income individuals with eviction cases in housing court will have full legal representation, while other tenants will receive brief legal assistance.
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Photo by Flatbush Tenant Coalition
“Having a lawyer in Housing Court was the difference between winning my case and living in a shelter, said 60 year-old, Randy Dillard, a Southwest Bronx resident and single father of five.
Dillard is a member of the Right to Counsel Coalition, a group of advocates and organizers who have taken up the decades-long fight for legal representation in housing court. The Coalition members include CASA, Housing Court Answers, Legal Services-NYC, Catholic Migration Services and AARP to name a few.
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Flatbush Tenant Coalition leaders Lucia (left) and Jean (center) join advocates in celebration of Right to Counsel, which provides universal legal services for NYC tenants facing evictions in housing court. [Photo by Flatbush Tenant Coalition]
“Less than 10 percent of tenants in housing court have lawyers to represent them,” said Flatbush Tenant Coalition leader, Marie Laroche, in a video for the Right to Counsel campaign. “In 2013, 28,849 [tenants] were evicted by a Marshall,” Laroche added.
Sponsored by Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa L. Gibson, Intro 214-B passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 42-3-1. Find out more about the Right to Counsel grassroots movement by visiting the Coalition’s website: righttocounselnyc.org.
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