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The Right to Eviction Counsel Is Gaining Momentum

As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expands tenant protections, a pair of U.S. senators introduce the Eviction Crisis Act to help renters get legal help.
Renters in additional parts of New York City will now be getting enhanced legal protection from eviction.
Renters in additional parts of New York City will now be getting enhanced legal protection from eviction.Mark Lennihan/AP

Back in 2017, New York City passed a law to guarantee free legal representation to low-income residents facing eviction. The first of its kind in the nation, the law established a standard for due process for vulnerable families with an aim to level an unfair playing field in housing court.

While landlords in New York appear with counsel in more than 90 percent of eviction proceedings, tenants were represented by attorneys in just 1 percent of cases in 2013. The new law is working: Over the last quarter, more than 32 percent of tenants facing eviction brought lawyers to their hearings, and in 2018, evictions were down by 5 percent from the year before.