Monday, July 24, 2017
Those advocating for the civil right to counsel have enjoyed a major victory. Last week, New York City's mayor DeBlasio signed a bill ensuring that low income tenants facing eviction will have counsel appointed. The legislation is the first in the country to mandate and fund appointed counsel for housing court eviction defendants. Manhattan Councilman Mark Levine said "The worst landlords have used housing court as a weapon, hauling tenants into court on flimsy eviction cases because they knew in the vast majority of cases, the tenant would not have a lawyer. "
The program will be phased in over five years and tenants in certain zip codes will be the first to receive the benefit of appointed counsel. The maximum income for qualification for appointed counsel will be $49,200.00 for a family of four. The program is expected to help 400,000 tenants per year.
John Pollock of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel commented: "New York City's historic step forward is a watershed moment for the national right to counsel movement, and already we've heard of cities and states lining up to be he next one to advance the critically important right to counsel in housing cases."