During the phase in of RTC, we are working hard to ensure a just implementation. To do that we have 4 main working groups that advance our work and principles. At our monthly coalition meetings, we break out into those working groups.
- Court Based Implementation
This working group involves dozens of representatives from almost all legal services organizations providing RTC legal representation as well as tenant organizing groups, disability advocacy organizations, and homelessness advocacy groups. This Working Group is focused on ensuring the roll-out of right to counsel reflects that a new right has been created and helps create the necessary culture shift in Housing Court and the tenant community. It also works to ensure that the implementation of RTC, centers the experiences of tenants and maximizes tenant access to legal representation, including for Limited English Proficient tenants and tenants with disabilities. The Working Group stays abreast of implementation challenges and also makes recommendations to Court officials and the City about ways to improve implementation and achieve best practices.
- The Tenant attorney pipeline working group
It is made up of various legal services attorneys and tenant leaders from across the city. There are about a dozen members of the working group representing several of the metropolitan area law schools as well as a number of the legal services provider organizations. The focus of the pipeline working group is on building a cohort of highly qualified and effective advocates and supervisors to implement the right to counsel. To do this, we have been focusing on promoting greater attention to housing rights advocacy in law school instruction, including promoting more clinical and doctrinal offerings, and changing attitudes in law schools so that becoming a housing rights advocate is seen as an exciting, transformative and desirable career choice. We have also been focusing on the need for excellent supervision so that the provider organizations have the capacity to hire new attorneys for the work.
- The tenant organizing working group
There are about 35 members of the working group that include tenant leaders and tenant organizers from across the city, who work in the RTC zips. We are looking at how are we conducting outreach and organizing in the RTC zips, strategically with our limited resources across the city. This working group supports and coordinates the work of community based organizing groups to increase tenant education and awareness, develop leaders, evaluate implementation and combat landlord harassment. This group is the one that planned the town halls, for example. Organizing groups are targeting distressed buildings for outreach and conducting know your rights workshops in buildings. Groups are organizing tenants' associations to combat landlord harassment and will continue to conduct broad based outreach.
- The Right to Counsel, Power to Organize campaign working group
This working groups is made up of tenants, organizers, legal service providers, labor union representatives, and more who are working on passing new legislation that would expand and strengthen NYC's current RTC law. Their goal is to ensure that nearly all tenants who face eviction have RTC and know about it. Intro 1104 would increase RTC's income eligibility level and expand the types of eviction cases covered by RTC. Intro 1529 would require the city to work with trusted tenant organizing groups to engage and educate tenants about their rights.