ew Report: NYC Right to Counsel: First Year Results and Potential for Expansion,

New Report: Oksana Mironova, NYC Right to Counsel: First Year Results and Potential for Expansion, Community Service Society, March 25, 2019. Preview below:

Evictions are a major driver of housing instability and homelessness for low-income New Yorkers. In the past, tenants facing eviction usually arrived to housing court without legal representation, at a major disadvantage to landlords who almost always have an attorney. This is changing. After years of advocacy, New York became the first city in the country to launch Right to Counsel (RTC) in late 2017. This law will give tenants with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level who are facing an eviction in housing court access to an attorney. The city’s FY 2018 budget included $15M for the first phase of the program, which is reaching 20 of the city’s 200+ zip codes. Plans are to extend it to the remaining zip codes by 2022.

In addition to RTC, the city has launched other anti-harassment/anti-displacement legal services programs since 2014, like the Tenant Harassment Assistance program. The major difference is that in RTC zip codes, access to an attorney is a right for any low-income tenant facing an eviction. In non-RTC zip codes, legal services are a benefit for some low-income tenants.

In this brief, we look at how much legal representation has grown as a result of the Right to Counsel law, and what impact it has had on eviction rates. The phase-in of the program provides a natural experiment; it has given us an opportunity to compare RTC zip codes with similar zip codes without the program.

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