More New Yorkers could qualify for free housing court lawyers

“Our findings show that the right to counsel law is an effective strategy for empowering tenants and addressing housing insecurity,” Oksana Mironova, housing policy analyst at Community Service Society, told The City.

News Story (New York)

Valeria Ricciulli
February 24, 2020

Tags: Housing: Eviction, Housing: Right to Counsel


Last year, evictions decreased by almost 20 percent in sections of New York City covered by the 2017 Right to Counsel law, which provides free legal services to low-income tenants in housing court, The City reports. According to an analysis by nonprofit Community Service Society (CSS), during the program’s first two years, evictions in the 20 zip codes covered by the program dropped by 29 percent. And by 2022, the program is expected to expand citywide.

But the program is currently only available to households at 200 percent the federal poverty level, or $26,000/year for a single adult, therefore a full-time worker earning $15/hour minimum wage wouldn’t qualify. And given the city’s high cost of living, CSS’s analysis says, moderate-income households, are vulnerable to eviction and housing instability as well.

Now, City Council members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson are sponsoring a bill to expand the program’s income eligibility to 400 percent of the poverty level.