Every day, hundreds of tenants across the city are being denied Right to Counsel. Since the lifting of the eviction moratorium in January 2022, more than 33,000 households facing eviction have been forced to represent themselves in housing court, even though the vast majority of them have the right to an attorney under NYC law. This is outrageous! This is why we are doing COURT WATCH!
Through Court Watch, we make sure tenants know they have the right to an attorney AND that they have the right to ask judges to uphold the law by granting them an adjournment so that they have more time to get an attorney to represent them. We make sure tenants know that they are not alone in their struggle – there are thousands of tenants like them fighting to Defend Right to Counsel.
In September: We spoke to more than 950 tenants through Court Watch – Most tenants we spoke to did not know that they had a right to an attorney and that they were being denied their rights!
Court Watch Success Stories
On September 18th and September 27th, Queens tenants rallied and showed up to support fellow tenant Hanny Chandra in her housing court case. Organizers at Catholic Migration Services (CMS) met Hanny through Queens Court Watch and quickly mobilized around her case. Before her court date, tenants rallied to demand that the courts uphold the Right to Counsel law and grant Hanny an adjournment, which would give her more time to find a lawyer. Without one, Hanny would be left to navigate the legal system on her own. Through the support of fellow tenants, Hanny was able to get an adjournment for her case, which gave her the time she needed to retain and meet with a lawyer.
Participating in the Queens RTC Court Watch was both enlightening and fulfilling. Partnering with trained organizers gave me the ability to reach out to and inform several Spanish speaking tenants of their right to an attorney during this time when they were already feeling at a disadvantage and intimidated.
– Wanda Martinez, Tenant Leader and CMS Member
Statewide Right to Counsel would pay for itself! It would gave us millions in public dollars that would otherwise be spent on shelter and emergency services.
CALL TO ACTION!
We shouldn’t have to do Court Watch. The Chief Judge could issue an administrative order to pause all cases for tenants until they get RTC. The state legislature could pass legislation to force the courts to uphold the law. Join us to take action to push for our demands!
→ Call your City Council Members TODAY and ask them to sign on to resolutions in support of two important pieces of legislation to expand and strengthen RTC for all NY tenants:
- Resolution 499: Calls on the New York State legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, A4993/S3254, requiring that any tenant eligible for Right to Counsel be granted the necessary adjournments by the court to ensure counsel.
- Resolution 345: Calls on the New York State legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign,(A1493/S2721) so that all New York tenants have Right to Counsel.
TALK to tenants with us in Housing Court!
WE NEED MORE VOLUNTEERS FOR COURT WATCH so we can talk to even more tenants! Join us to meet your neighbors and build our movement to expand tenant power and fight evictions.
Reach out to Brianna with the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition for more information or questions at (646) 727-0597 or email us at [email protected]