New location selected for Brooklyn Housing Court

December 15, 2014 By Charisma L. Troiano, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
210 Joralemon St., Brooklyn Municipal Building
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Brooklyn’s Housing Court may be preparing for a transition to a new location. The court is slated to move a few blocks away to Brooklyn’s Municipal Building at 210 Joralemon Street. 

“It is not completely a done deal, but we are very optimistic about the location,” said Ronald Younkins, executive director of the Office of Court Administration (OCA).

The Housing Court — housed at 141 Livingston St. — has been plagued with complaints, largely due to inadequacy of the building facilities at the Livingston Street location.
“There are so many wrong things in Brooklyn Housing Court that it’s hard to find words,” said Beverly Rivers, a tenant leader with the Flatbush Tenant Coalition. “People are like sardines in a can. The building is too crowded.  You’re already nervous about losing your home. You are scared and trying to keep calm and you face a crowd of people, all pressed against each other.” 

“This building was not set-up for this kind of usage,” a court officer told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. As to why people were being corralled into limited elevators by line dividers? “This isn’t Supreme Court [at 360 Adams Street],” the court officer said, “…if we did not have structure like this, people would be getting into fights just trying to get into the elevator.” 

The move to 210 Joralemon St. may ease that particular concern.

“There are about eight operating elevators that hold approximately 20 people per elevator,” a security guard Brooklyn Municipal Building informed the Eagle in a phone interview Monday. 

A representative from the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services did not reply as of press time about the amount of elevators and capacity at 141 Livingston. 

According to reports, Brooklyn’s Civil Court and Appellate Term, Second Department — also housed at 141 Livingston— are expected to join the move as well.  

“There are a few procedural items that need to be completed before the move is confirmed,” Younkins cautioned.

For example, New York state’s Capital Facilities Review Board an independent group responsible for reviewing capital or investment plans by OCA that affects court facilities — must first approve the plan. 

“We will make the recommendation for the move and are confident that the Captial Facilites Review Board will give approval,” Younkins noted.

In addition to the limited access to elevators, complaints about the amount of courtrooms available at 141 Livingston has been a target for tenant advocate groups.  

“There is congestion, lack of air conditioning and inadequately sized courtrooms,” noted Robert Rosenblatt of Balsamo & Rosenblatt LLP, about the Livingston Street location. 

OCA’s Younkins declares that the issue is not courtrooms per se, but rather the number of judges. While the number of judges for housing court is set at 50, OCA makes the decision for where the judges are deployed. “It is about making sure there are sufficient places for the judges to sit.”

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