Evictions Down From Harlem To Hollis In Areas Where Tenants Get Free Lawyers

A city program that provides free lawyers to low-income tenants in housing court has helped cut down on evictions, according to a new analysis by advocates for the program.

Home evictions declined five times faster in city ZIP codes where tenants are eligible for free legal counsel than in similar ZIP codes where the program is not available, showed numbers released Monday by the Community Service Society of New York. Tenant advocacy groups said Tuesday that the numbers show the effectiveness of the city’s Right to Counsel law, which gives tenants with an income below 200% of the federal poverty level an attorney when facing eviction.

The city’s fiscal year 2018 budget provided $15 million to implement the program in 20 of the city’s more than 200 ZIP codes, with plans to expand the program to the entire city by 2022.

The city’s fiscal year 2018 budget provided $15 million to implement the program in 20 of the city’s more than 200 ZIP codes, with plans to expand the program to the entire city by 2022.

Residential evictions decreased by 11% from 2017 to 2018 in ZIP codes that offer free legal counsel, the analysis found. In areas that did not offer the program but had comparable historical eviction, poverty and rental rates, evictions edged down by 2% during the same period.

Residential evictions decreased by 11% from 2017 to 2018 in ZIP codes that offer free legal counsel, the analysis found. In areas that did not offer the program but had comparable historical eviction, poverty and rental rates, evictions edged down by 2% during the same period. In February the city reported that total residential evictions fell 14% in 2018 from the previous year.

Marika Dias, director of the Tenant Rights Coalition at Legal Services NYC, said in a statement that the report “confirms what we at Legal Services NYC know to be true: Right to Counsel prevents evictions.”

Harlem City Councilman Mark Levine, the sponsor of the bill, which passed in 2017, said at a Thursday panel in Midtown that it has brought efficiency to housing court, a point of agreement with Susan Baumel-Cornicello, an attorney on the panel who represents landlords.

Harlem City Councilman Mark Levine, the sponsor of the bill, which passed in 2017, said at a Thursday panel in Midtown that it has brought efficiency to housing court, a point of agreement with Susan Baumel-Cornicello, an attorney on the panel who represents landlords. She said communications between the landlord and the tenant improve when tenants have an attorney. “Judges don’t have to act as counsel for the tenants, so things can go quicker,” she said. Landlord groups have long said eviction cases typically involve tenants who fall behind on rent.

Levine has proposed expanding eligibility for free counsel to tenants earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level, which advocates say would cover the majority of eviction cases. He has introduced a bill to do the same for small businesses facing eviction reports Crain’s, New York.

In June San Francisco passed its own right-to-counsel law for residential tenants facing eviction, becoming the second municipality in the U.S. to do so. Earlier this year Newark became the third.

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