Chief Judge Wants to Implement Changes to NYC’s Housing Courts

Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and of the State of New York Janet DiFiore recently delivered the State of the Judiciary Speech. On the issue of Housing Court, DiFiore said, “New York City is experiencing its highest levels of homelessness since the Great Depression.”

During her speech, DiFiore announced that the Special Commission on the Future of New York City Housing Court has finished its report. The commission looked at the implications of the Universal Access law, which ensures that low-income tenants facing eviction have attorneys. “Not surprisingly, the commission found that the New York City Housing Court is one of the busiest, most overburdened courts in the nation. And as you might imagine, the litigants in this court are overwhelmingly people of modest means, frightened of losing their homes or frustrated by living conditions that threaten the health and well-being of their families,” she said.

“The Universal Access law will be implemented over the next five years and will transform Housing Court litigation. But even as the volume of unrepresented litigants substantially declines, there is a risk that, without careful planning, an already overcrowded docket could become even more unwieldy and slow-moving,” the task force said in its report.

DiFiore announced that Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks will lead a group of high-level judges and court managers responsible for implementing the commission’s recommended changes, which include new procedures and practices, new technology, new courthouses, and more judges, clerks, and interpreters.