NYC Council Passes Historic Right to Counsel in Victory for Low-Income Tenants
On Thursday, New York City became the first place in the country where low-income tenants facing eviction will be guaranteed an attorney. The New York City Council passed a bill establishing a “right to counsel” for tenants in housing court, a right that previously only extended to citizens in criminal court.
Mayor de Blasio has agreed to sign the legislation, after which the measure will take effect gradually, first offering lawyers to tenants in certain zipcodes. By 2022, any tenant facing eviction and earning less than $49,200 for a family of four will be entitled to a lawyer provided by the City. NYCHA tenants will be covered by a separate pilot program, of which the administration will determine the scope.
The NYC CLC is a proud member of the Right to Counsel coalition. “As rent and the cost of living continues to rise and to make city life less affordable for working New Yorkers, this legislation will help to protect tenants from predatory landlords and practices that can lead to eviction, displacement, and homelessness," said Vincent Alvarez, President of the NYC CLC. "Through the passage of this ‘Right to Counsel’ legislation, New York City is helping to preserve affordable housing and neighborhood options for hardworking New Yorkers.”