Low-Income Tenants May Soon Have the Right to an Attorney in Housing Court

Village_Voice.jpgBy Anita Abedian

When charged with a crime, the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution ensures that you have a lawyer, even if you cannot afford one. When taken to housing court by your landlord, tenants are on their own. Today, community leaders, homeless policy experts, council members, and other tenants, called for the City Council to pass a bill that would give low income New Yorkers a right to counsel in housing court.

The "Right to Counsel" bill, Intro 214, introduced in 2014 by council members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson, would provide free legal representation to low-income tenants and homeowners who earn up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level — households with families of four in New York City earning less than $44,000 a year — and facing legal proceedings in housing court.

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