DEFEND Right to Counsel

Right to Counsel is under attack! We are fighting back! 

What's Happening: 

By all metrics, RTC works: evictions plummeted, landlords sued tenants less and almost EVERYONE who had Right to Counsel stayed in their home.  Now, all of that is at risk.

We’ve been calling on the courts to slow down cases since COVID began (initially our demand was to stop all cases!) when we launched the Housing Courts Must Change Campaign. There is NO REASON that evictions move faster than any other type of civil court case.  There is no reason to return to pre-pandemic norms of calendaring a ton of cases in every part, every day, and prioritizing speed over justice. This is true IN GENERAL. Our position has always been that if and when housing courts re-opened, they need to move slower than they did in pre-pandemic times, making sure all tenants have RTC, all of the complicated COVID related protections are upheld, and that evictions are not normalized. COVID taught the world that we do not need to return to pre-pandemic beliefs that evictions are normal and cases must move fast at all costs. 

In anticipation of the eviction protections expiring and in the midst of the national labor shortage affecting industries across the country, including legal services providers, we started to push the courts to adopt the policy of slowing down cases back in January of 2022. Some legal services orgs have dozens open positions they are trying to fill. This means that remaining attorneys would need to do the impossible task of taking on their former colleagues' cases, moving forward with cases that had previously been stalled and taking on new cases.  We knew this would create a crisis and tried to get ahead of it by pushing the courts to change their practices. In response to our solutions, the court said no and instead began moving cases forward without RTC.  It's only gotten worse.

Our eviction crisis monitor documents this crisis.  To date, more than 40,000 tenants have been denied RTC. 

To learn more about why this is happening, read our full FAQ on DEFEND RTC


  • Issue an administrative order to mandate that all eviction cases where a tenant is eligible for RTC shall be administratively stayed until the tenant has retained a right to counsel attorney.
  • Pass our Statewide DEFEND RTC Legislation (S3254 / A4993), which would mandate that tenants have the time they need to get RTC. Learn more about the legislation here.
  • Pass our Statewide Right to Counsel Legislation (A1493 / S2721) for all New York tenants, which would also create rules for the courts to uphold and implement RTC. 
  • Fully Fund RTC! We are demanding at least $300 million to ensure there are enough attorneys to represent everyone entitled to RTC. 


  • We've met with local elected officials, the courts and various city agencies. 
  • We've held multiple protests in front of the housing courts and state agencies 
  • We've taken elected officials on tours of the housing courts to see for themselves how tenants are being denied RTC 
  • We've held workshops, town halls and trainings in the neighborhoods hit hardest by evictions to explain what's happening and help tenants fight back. 
  • We've held solidarity actions to accompany tenants who've been denied RTC to court 
  • We are doing regular outreach at courts.
  • We worked with NYC City Council to introduce and pass two resolutions: Resolution 499, which supports our DEFEND Right to Counsel legislation, that mandates tenants have the time they need to get RTC and Resolution 345, in support of our  Statewide Right to Counsel legislation, which guarantees RTC for all tenants across New York State! These resolutions passed in December of 2023. 
  • And so much more! 


-Pass Statewide Right to Counsel (A1493 / S2721), which would guarantee ALL New York tenants the right to a lawyer when facing eviction.

-Pass our Statewide DEFEND RTC Legislation (S3254 / A4993), which would mandate that tenants have the time they need to get RTC.

  • Call Chief Judge Wilson to demand that he issue an administrative order to pause all cases until tenants get RTC! 
  • Sign Up to do Court Watch to make sure tenants know their rights! 
  • Watch this powerful video of one of our actions disrupting Housing Courts in Brooklyn and the Bronx! We shall not be moved! 

To learn more or to get involved in our campaign to defend RTC, email us! 

Resources for Tenants: 

Read More About Our Position: 

Press (Selected List Below)