One of the primary eviction prevention measures jurisdictions across the country have taken is to expand access to free legal counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction. In 2017, New York City became the first jurisdiction to enact “Universal Access to Counsel” (UAC), guaranteeing free legal representation to all low-income tenants facing eviction in the City’s housing courts. Research, however, has yet to rigorously evaluate claims either defending and criticizing UAC. This paper aims to address this gap by examining the effectiveness of legal representation in preventing evictions in the private rental market.
This brief outlines recommendations to inform the “reopening” of New York City housing courts, a term we will use to describe the incremental process of reopening court buildings, permitting new eviction filings, expanding the courts’ dockets, and other aspects of returning to full operations.
This Policy Brief gives a brief summary of the history of advocacy efforts to establish a “right to counsel” in eviction cases, which led up to the city’s UAC legislation. It provides an overview of the Furman Center’s observations of the first year of the program roll-out and suggests how the city’s experience might help other jurisdictions shape the design and implementation of their programs. Recognizing that every jurisdiction differs, and the importance of local context to understanding and learning from another jurisdiction’s experiences, Section II of the paper details the context in which the city’s UAC was designed. Section III then describes how the city has implemented UAC. Finally, Section IV discusses what can be learned from the city’s experience implementing the program, and highlights issues that other
jurisdictions need to consider in implementing a universal or expanded access to counsel program.
This data brief provides a descriptive overview of residential evictions filed in New York City from 2010-2017. The data show the prevalence and location of eviction filings, the types of cases, and changes over time. This analysis pro-vides a baseline to better understand the scale of eviction cases in New York City and to provide a benchmark for tenant protection efforts going forward.