In State of the City, De Blasio Announces New Efforts to Help Struggling Tenants

CityandState.pngBy Sarina Trangle

...The mayor’s support for the so-called Right to Counsel initiative was well-received among tenant advocates and among city lawmakers, many of whom had signed onto legislation in 2014 that would provide the poor with attorneys in housing court. Still, some advocates said they were not convinced de Blasio’s City Hall would help those most in need of affordable housing. One activist went so far as to suggest de Blasio’s announcements were an attempt to quell “massive community opposition” to his housing agenda as he heads into a re-election year.

New York City Councilman Mark Levine, the long-time sponsor of the Right to Counsel Act, disagreed with the criticism. He said the administration had already provided funding for legal representation for some tenants facing evictions and, seeing that they were more likely to win their cases, concluded that the efforts could help keep families out of homeless shelters. Levine said the administration agreed to expand services so that within five years, all of those at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level could walk into housing court with an attorney. He said this would cover two thirds of tenants in the court system, including public housing residents who have already been through NYCHA’s administrative proceedings and appealed to the courts.

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