Community Action for Safe Apartments Organizer Supports Free Legal-Assistance for Tenants, The Nation Reports

Posted on August 29, 2017

These Cities Are About to Make It Harder for Landlords to Evict People

Originally Published in The Nation on August 28, 2017
Written by Jimmy Tobias

Community Action for Safe Apartments organizer Randy Dillard was able to avoid eviction due to resources allocated to provide legal representation for tenants. In New York City, money started pouring into legal-assistance programs for tenants, increasing such funding from $6 million to $62 million between 2013 and 2016. On August 11, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation that, when fully implemented, will dedicate $155 million a year to ensure that all low-income tenants in New York City have access to legal representation in housing court. The right-to-counsel legislation is the first of its kind in the country. Before the City started ramping up funding for legal-assistance programs, only about 1 percent of tenants who appeared in housing court had attorneys, while almost all of the city’s litigious landlords were able to afford and obtain legal counsel. Advocates say this disparity encouraged landlords and developers to intimidate tenants and pursue frivolous cases, fueling unfair evictions, homelessness, the loss of affordable housing, and gentrification.

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