By Shibani Gokhale
The New York City Council's decision to offer free counsel to low-income tenants facing eviction is being applauded by legal service providers and the New York City Bar Association, which praised passage of the "historic legislation."
The city council on July 20 approved the "Right to Counsel in Housing Court," a bill that would establish programs to ensure legal representation for all tenants facing eviction within the next five years.
"Providing a lawyer to a tenant facing eviction not only increases the likelihood that the tenant will be able to avoid eviction, thereby reducing displacement, disruption, and homelessness, but should also be highly cost-effective," the city bar said in a statement.
According to a 2016 study by the city bar, there is a 77 percent decrease in eviction warrants issued to tenants who had an attorney in Housing Court, compared to those who did not, independent of the merit of the case.