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Report: NYC evictions decline sharply as result of new Right to Counsel law

New York was the first city in the U.S. to pass the Right to Counsel law.

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A new report measures the effectiveness of a one-year-old NYC law that guarantees low-income tenants an attorney when facing an eviction in housing court.

The analysis by the Community Service Society shows that evictions declined over five times faster in NYC zip codes where the Right to Counsel law is in effect compared to zip codes without Right to Counsel that have comparable rates of poverty, eviction, and rental units.

“With 200 advocates defending tenants against eviction citywide, Legal Services NYC attorneys successfully prevent eviction in the overwhelming majority of cases we handle, and in all cases we ensure that tenant rights are upheld,” says Marika Dias, director of the Tenant Rights Coalition at Legal Services NYC.

(Another recent survey by listings website RentHop found that evictions in NYC have fallen in every NYC borough.)

Signed into law in 2017, the Right to Counsel law is currently in effect in 20 New York City zip codes, and will be phased-in citywide by 2022. 

The analysis also found that many tenants ineligible for Right to Counsel face housing hardships—such as being threatened with eviction, falling behind on rent, or moving in with other people. The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition is currently working on passing Intro 1104, which would expand the law’s income threshold from 200 percent of the federal poverty level to 400 percent. The report estimates this would cover an additional 31 percent of tenants in housing court.