By Will Drickey
In the six months since a New York City law guaranteeing universal access to legal counsel for low-income tenants facing evictions came into effect, more than 8,000 people have kept their homes in the face of unjust legal proceedings filed by landlords.
"When tenants are given a fair chance to fight in housing court, they will win," said Council Member Mark Levine, who sponsored the law. "Though this is great news, we can't afford to take our foot off the gas. We need to expand and strengthen this law to keep New Yorkers in their homes, off the streets and out of the shelter system."
Since 2013, the amount of evictions in New York City has fallen by 37 percent, and the number of tenants with legal representation has more than doubled, but the Right to Counsel law currently only applies to households making twice the federal poverty wage. According to Levine, in cities as expensive as New York, this is still below the cost the living. Council Member Levine has already sponsored a "Right to Counsel 2.0" law to increase the availability and applicability of the previous law.