Free Housing Court Lawyers Are Driving Down Eviction Rates, City Says

The de Blasio administration is crediting its program to provide free lawyers to low-income tenants for helping reduce New York City’s overall eviction rate.

According to the city’s Department of Social Services, the eviction rate dropped by 14 percent in 2018, and has fallen 37 percent since de Blasio took office in 2014. While the Right to Counsel law still has three years to go in its five-year phase-in plan, Commissioner Steven Banks says it has already gone a long way towards helping level the playing field between tenants and landlords.

“When I first went to housing court, it was like David against Goliath for the tenants without lawyers. And essentially we’ve given a slingshot to the tenants,” Banks told WNYC.

Since the Right to Counsel law went into effect in 2017, the city says it has helped more than a quarter million New Yorkers with legal representation, advice or assistance in eviction cases. Banks’ sentiment has been echoed by tenant advocates across the five boroughs.

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