City Council Enacts Low-Income Tenants’ Right to Counsel
The New York City Council recently enacted legislation establishing a right to counsel for low-income tenants in Housing Court. Currently, the bill is awaiting the mayor’s signature before it can become law. The bill, Int. 214-A, was proposed more than two years ago but wasn’t brought before the full council for a vote at that time because some expressed concerns about costs. Since then, support for the bill had grown, with 42 co-sponsors from the 51-member City Council as well as the support of Public Advocate Letitia James.
With the bill’s enactment and if the mayor signs on, as expected, the legislation would make New York City the first jurisdiction in the country to guarantee lawyers for any low-income residents facing eviction. Under the measure, tenants who make below 200 percent of the federal poverty line would qualify. For a single person, the cutoff would be $24,120; and for a family of four, it would be $49,200. The plan would be fully implemented by July 31, 2022, but would apply to public housing tenants as early as this October.