Tenants plan rally outside Brooklyn Housing Court as people are denied their ‘Right To Counsel’

May 31, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Thousands of tenants from across Brooklyn and the Bronx are taking a stand against what they believe is a fundamental denial of justice. On Wednesday, tenants, advocates, and elected officials will gather for a rally and press conference to highlight a crisis affecting the lives of almost 25,000 New Yorkers.

For over a year now, a rising number of tenants have been denied their lawful right to an attorney in eviction cases. The Right to Counsel (RTC), which ensures legal representation for tenants, has been strained due to the expiration of eviction protections and the ongoing national labor shortage.

Consequently, many legal services organizations simply lack the personnel to provide representation at the pace the courts demand. This has resulted in courts proceeding with thousands of eviction cases, leaving tenants to fend for themselves.

The tenants and their advocates are calling for a series of measures to be enacted in response to this crisis. These include an administrative order by the Chief Judge to pause all cases until tenants secure legal representation, full funding of RTC by the City Council to ensure enough attorneys to handle cases, and the release of $3.6 million in promised funds from the Office of Civil Justice to educate and organize tenants.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

At the state level, advocates are urging the State legislature to pass a pair of bills that would expand and strengthen the Right to Counsel law, requiring courts to uphold RTC. They also call for the passage of a pair of City Council resolutions in support of these state bills.

Despite the urgency of the situation, the city, state legislature, and state courts have yet to take decisive action, critics said. The inaction has led to the number of tenants without legal representation in Housing court nearing a staggering 25,000. As the state legislative session comes to a close and the city negotiates its budget, tenants are rallying to have their rights recognized and protected.

The rally and press conference, organized by the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, will take place at the Brooklyn Housing Court (141 Livingston Street) and the Bronx Housing Court (1118 Grand Concourse) at 10 A.M. on Wednesday.

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