Cities Are Guaranteeing Tenants Access to a Lawyer to Help Them Fight Eviction

In 2013, Randy Dillard was living with his four sons and a daughter in an apartment at 198th Street and Bainbridge in the Bronx. The windows were broken; mold and mildew streaked the walls. In the winter, Dillard’s family had to boil water on the stove to bathe; there was no heat or hot water. When the New York City Housing Authority conducted an inspection of the apartment on behalf of Section 8, the federal rent assistance program that financed Dillard’s rental, the unit failed the test, and Section 8 stopped paying Dillard’s landlord, demanding that he make repairs. That winter, Dillard was hospitalized for two months with a bout of emphysema; when he came out, he was served with eviction papers for nonpayment of rent.