City Hall’s budget bombast has tolled its first real bomb blast–right on the heads of impoverished tenants facing eviction.
The City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, a nonprofit that provides free legal advice to unrepresented tenants is shutting down its advice-giving operation on Tuesday. The task force, which had received a $263,000 budget appropriation from Council Speaker Peter Vallone, was included in a slate of vetoes handed down by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani last week.
It marked the second time in five weeks that the task force was bitten by a veto: Governor George Pataki vetoed the nonprofit’s funding in May.
Now the task force will have to lay off five of its six employees within two weeks and suspend staffing of its tables in the five borough housing courts. The tables may stay open on Mondays, if enough qualified volunteers can be mustered.
“The tenants are going to have absolutely no representation,” said Angelita Anderson, the task force’s director. “We’re waiting for some private sector money to help save us. But the biggest effort is to get the OCA [the state Office of Court Administration] to help keep us going until the budget is worked out.” Anderson says that, so far, the OCA has given her the cold shoulder.
“All they say is that they’re considering it,” she says. A call to OCA wasn’t returned at City Limits Weekly press time.