Understanding Your ‘Right to Counsel’: New Resources for Tenants Facing Eviction

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Did you know the city is instituting a “right to counsel” in housing court—meaning, low-income tenants will be eligible for a free attorney when fighting eviction?

Even if you did know, you may have questions: How does the program work? Does it matter why you’re being evicted? How little do you need to make?

The Right to Counsel program is being phased in over five years by zip code and is currently available to 15 zip codes, three in each borough. Tenants who are sued for eviction and are income-eligible have a right to an attorney, no matter where they live, what kind of eviction case they have, or what there immigration status is.  Tenants who are over income have a right to a legal consultation or an advice session.

The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, a coalition of tenants, advocates, legal service providers and academics, is offering a variety of new resources to help tenants learn about the new program.

The coalition and JustFix.nyc have launched a website, Eviction Free NYC, which aims to help tenants determine whether they are eligible for a free attorney, provide information to help them respond to an eviction, and help them connect with community organizing groups that can help them defend their rights. It guides tenants through a questionnaire to determine what resources may be available.

In addition, the coalition is hosting a town hall in every borough where residents can learn about their right to eviction defense. There will be a housing legal clinic and housing/tenant resources available.

On their own, tenants can also read up on How does the Right to Counsel work in New York City and what to do if your rent is just too high.

Inform your neighbors, and check out the details of the town halls below.

Manhattan Town Hall
Tuesday, April 10, 6-8:30pm, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building 163 W 125th Street (at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.), Art Gallery, 2nd floor.
Food, Childcare, & Spanish/English Interpretation will be provided.
RSVP: here or call 212-799-9638 ext. 210. More Info here.

Queens Town Hall
Thursday, April 12, 6:30-8:30pm, St. Bartholomew Church, 44-15 Judge Street, between 43 and Whitney Avenues.
Food, Childcare, & Spanish/English Interpretation will be provided.
RSVP here or contact Amy at acollado@catholicmigration.org or 347-472-3500, ext. 112. More info here.

Bronx Town Hall
Thursday, April 12, 6-8:30pm, Resource Fair begins at 5pm! 2501 Jerome Ave, Monroe College Auditorium.
Food, Childcare, & Spanish/English Interpretation will be provided.
RSVP here or contact Addie at adelaide@northwestbronx.org. More info here.

Brooklyn Town Hall
Wednesday, April 18, 7-9pm, St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf, 260 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11225.
Food, Childcare, & Spanish/English Interpretation will be provided.
RSVP here or contact Estefania at 347-669-9466 or estefaniatftc@gmail.com. More Info here.

Staten Island Town Hall
Saturday, April 21, 2-4pm, Faith United Methodist Church, 221 Heberton Ave.
Food, Childcare, & Spanish/English Interpretation will be provided.
RSVP here or contact Ketty at kettyt@hcanswers.org; 212-962-4795 x260. More info here.

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