TITLE OF THE BILL: An act to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to providing legal counsel for low-income tenants who are subject to eviction, ejectment or foreclosure proceedings.
PURPOSE: To improve access to legal services for low-income tenants who are unable to afford said services, thereby reducing chances of homelessness.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Subdivision (1) defines the conditions that qualify an individual for the provision of legal counsel by delineating the income threshold for eligibility and the types of proceedings to be covered.
Subdivision (2) establishes the position of the civil justice coordinator.
Subdivision (3) calls upon the civil justice coordinator to designate eligible organizations that will provide legal counsel and assigns a city department to oversee the implementation of the program.
Subdivision (4) establishes the method by which the civil justice coordinator shall assign legal counsel.
Subdivision (5) outlines the compensation scheme for designated organizations providing legal counsel.
Section 2 ensures the validity of each provision in the case that any provision of this local law is found to be invalid.
Section 3 provides for an effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: This legislation is necessary to ensure equal access to legal services in housing court for low-income tenants who are facing the loss of their homes. Legal representation has long been shown to positively impact outcomes for tenants in housing court. This bill seeks to remove the barrier of income in obtaining such services for eligible individuals.
Because low-income tenants are more likely to live in rent-regulated units and become homeless, this legislation will help to preserve the affordable housing stock and money lost to the shelter system.
Finally, this bill provides much needed protection for tenants from landlords who file unwarranted eviction claims.