Advocates credit new ‘Right to Counsel’ law with large drop in evictions

The law is currently in effect in 20 New York City zip codes and will be implemented citywide by 2022. According to the report, 60 percent of the people who were able to remain in their homes in 2018 despite eviction proceedings benefited from legal representation under the new law.

News Story (New York)

Michelle Cohen
March 27, 2019

Tags: Civil Right to Counsel, Housing: Eviction

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services NYC (LSNYC)


The study compares zip codes where the Right to Counsel law is currently in effect to zip codes without Right to Counsel that have comparable rates of poverty and eviction, and comparable numbers of rental units. The zip codes where the law has been implemented accounted for over 60 percent of the overall decline in evictions analyzed, illustrating the effectiveness of the new policy at keeping low-income tenants in their homes.

Some key findings:

  • From 2017 to 2018, evictions declined more than five times faster in zip codes where the Right to Counsel law has been implemented than in similar zip codes where the law has not yet taken effect.
  • Right to Counsel accounted for more than 60 percent of the overall decline in evictions.
  • Tenants were three times as likely to receive legal services in RTC zip codes, compared to comparable non-RTC zip codes.
  • More than a third of tenants with incomes between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty guidelines (and therefore not covered under Right to Counsel, which only extends to those with incomes of less than 200 percent of the poverty guidelines) experience one or more housing hardships, including being threatened with eviction, falling behind on rent, and moving in with other people.