WE ARE MAKING HISTORY
On February 12, 2017, the NYC Mayor and the NYC City Council Speaker announced that they are committed to passing legislation mandating universal access to legal representation for low-income tenants in housing court!! This will mean that tenants no longer have to fear unjust evictions. This will mean that tenants no longer have to fear eviction as retaliation for organizing in their buildings or holding their landlords accountable. This will mean that we have more tools to fight gentrification. This is a victory for all of New York.
This landmark agreement sends a strong message to NYC tenants that their lives, homes and communities matter, that the City won’t stand by as they are forced to navigate the courts without representation and that they will be protected. This is a huge step forward towards creating a more equitable and just city.
It is also a testament to the power, strength and beauty of organizing. ¡Si se puede, si se pudo y si se podrá!
However, we still have a lot of work to do. The bill still needs to be voted on and signed into law. As a coalition we developed a set of guiding principles that we believe should guide the final negotiations as well as the implementation. You can see the principles here in English and here in Spanish and a list of who signed on to the principles here.
We are working hard to make sure that the legislation is passed and implemented in a way that upholds our values of justice and equity and builds tenant power in NYC.
Overview of the RTCNYC Coalition:
The Right to Counsel Coalition of NYC is made up of tenant organizing groups, tenant advocates, law schools and legal services organizations. We are working together to ensure that our city’s housing courts are a place of fairness, justice and equity. We do not support forced displacements that can and should be prevented and we believe that safe and affordable housing is central to our city’s future. We are working on establishing a right for New York residents to be represented in housing court by licensed, qualified and experienced attorneys when they go to housing court to defend their rights.
- 65% of New Yorkers are Renters
- Close to 300,000 New Yorkers are brought to Housing Court every year to fight an eviction.
- 97% of all cases in Housing Court are initiated by landlords
- Nearly 22,000 families, including older adults, were evicted in New York City in 2015. At least half of them wouldn't have been evicted if they had an attorney.
- 90% of landlords have attorneys in Housing Court while 70% of tenants don't.
- 62,000 people are in NYC's shelter system.
- Eviction is a leading cause of homelessness.
- At least 30% of all tenants evicted last year were evicted from a Rent Stabilized Apartment
In 10 years, none of us will be thinking about the cost of funding a Right to Counsel. In 10 years, we will be devastated by the consequences of denying this right to New Yorkers. Right to Counsel is an investment in our city's future. Right to Counsel is a statement about our commitment to a diverse, equitable and vibrant city.
At the first hearing on the bill on Monday, September 26th, 2016, both the steps of city hall and the chambers were filled to capacity as people waited hours to get inside and to testify, demonstrating both the widespread support for the bill and the determination of its supporters. After 7 hours of testimony, 80 people testified, 78 in support, including former Chief Judge Lippman and the Bronx and Manhattan Borough Presidents, 2 neutral and 0 in opposition. Recent press has started to talk about Right to Counsel as a reality in the near future and the NYT editorial board recently endorsed #RTCNYC! The time is now for New York to become the first city in the nation to have a right to counsel for tenants to defend their homes.
Watch Our Powerful Video About Why NYC Needs RTC!