Early Evidence on Eviction Patterns after the rollout of NYC’s Universal Access to Counsel
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.
Eviction practices across subsidized housing in New York State
This data brief compares eviction patterns in different types of place-based, subsidized housing in New York City and in other cities and jurisdictions across New York State from 2016 to the present. It finds that eviction filing rates are consistently higher in public housing than in other types of subsidized housing. Importantly, the share of eviction filings that result in a warrant of eviction, and the average amount sought per filing is consistently lower in public housing than in other stocks. These facts suggest that many public housing agencies view eviction filings as a strategy to collect back rent.
Half the Battle is Just Showing Up: Non-Answers and Default Judgments in Non-Payment Eviction Cases Across New York State
The goal of this brief is to describe the prevalence of tenant non-answers and default judgments, identify trends over time between 2016 and 2022, and explore variation in these rates in jurisdictions across New York State. We focus on non-payment cases (those filed for non-payment of rent) rather than holdover cases (those filed for any other reason, such as lease violations), as the vast majority of eviction filings in New York State are non-payment cases.
We find that answer rates are fairly stable over time, with pre-pandemic answer rates hovering around 50 percent in New York City and 60 percent among other jurisdictions in New York State. (These shares flip in the pandemic period, with higher answer rates in New York City than in other jurisdictions.) However, these averages conceal considerable variation. Many cities have very low rates of unanswered cases, while another sizable set of cities have high rates of unanswered cases. We also find suggestive evidence that the universal access to counsel (UAC) program in New York City may reduce both non-answer rates and the likelihood that a non-answer results in a default judgment.
Housing Justice in the Pandemic Age: Recommendations for Safe and Effective Courts During COVID-19
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.
How to Address Homelessness: Reflections from Research
In the latest issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Katherine O’Regan, Ingrid Gould Ellen, and Sophie House surveyed existing research–including several articles in the special, homlessness-focused volume of The ANNALS in which their commentary was published–that tackles the question of how to prevent and eradicate homelessness in the United States. The review highlights how new research developments can facilitate a shift towards "upstream," or preventative, homelessness interventions, while making necessary "downstream" emergency services more equitable and effective. With a critical eye toward the creation and perpetuation of racial disparities, the article examines four categories of policy responses: addressing root causes, preventing homelessness, providing services, and facilitating sustained exits from homelessness.
Implementing New York City’s Universal Access to Counsel Program: Lessons for Other Jurisdictions
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.
Trends in New York City Housing Court Eviction Filings
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.