As Rents Rise, Cities Strengthen Tenants’ Ability to Fight Eviction

Half-a-dozen cities from San Francisco to Cleveland are promising tenants the right to an attorney in eviction cases, a costly and logistically daunting initiative that advocates say is a necessary response to rising housing costs and homelessness.

News Story (NATIONAL)

Laura Kusisto
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
December 26, 2019

Tags: Housing: Eviction, Right to Counsel

Organizations mentioned/involved: Voices for Civil Justice, Legal Services NYC (LSNYC), National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel (NCCRC), Legal Aid Society of Cleveland


The Supreme Court granted defendants a right to an attorney in criminal cases in state court in 1963, but efforts to guarantee defendants the right to counsel in civil cases have been much more patchwork.

Most of the cities involved, including Cleveland, Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., and Santa Monica, Calif., passed legislation in the past year, so it is early to judge how they have fared.

New York was the first city to guarantee tenants the right to counsel, rolling out the program by zip code starting about two years ago. Early results suggest both that the program is working in driving down evictions and also that it has been tough to implement.