A smart new bill would make New York City the first in the country to provide lawyers for all lower-income tenants facing eviction.
Terrific news and especially meaningful to me, given my long (and eventually successful) pro se experience in Housing Court. (To see what I’ve written about it, use my search box and type in “Housing Court.” There are too many posts for me to link here.)
Although I represented myself in Housing Court, I was a plaintiff–I filed a complaint against my co-op for failure to maintain the building. I was not a respondent, a tenant who is being dragged into Housing Court by a landlord threatening to evict, a much more dire situation than mine. If I had lost my case, I would still own and be living in my co-op apartment.
When I spent time in Housing Court, I saw tenants fighting landlords’ eviction notices and saw that the marvelous Department of Housing Preservation and Development lawyers–who are stationed in the court to represent New York City’s buildings–could not really help tenants with eviction notices.
This new bill will mean there will be lawyers in Housing Court to help tenants pro bono. Personally, I think that all needy defendants, criminal and civil, should be given legal representation, an expansion of Gideon v. Wainwright.