New York City tenants and officials from the NYC Comptroller’s office as well as the Public Advocate’s office again demanded Wednesday that the city’s Eviction Court slow down proceedings to help keep endangered residents in their homes.
The press conference and rally also appealed to city and state lawmakers to pass additional eviction protection legislation. This follows a similar rally in Manhattan earlier this month.
The event centered around one tenant in particular, Queens resident Allilsa Fernandez, who is currently facing eviction after being unfairly shut out of federal aid during the pandemic and is being forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars in back rent.
“Landlords are using and abusing the system to harass tenants like me,” said Allilsa Fernandez during the Aug. 31 protest. “We need to slow down cases and expand Right to Counsel statewide to protect tenants across New York. New York State must also pass Good Cause and the Housing Access Voucher Program could prevent situations like mine.”
Protestors demanded that the OCA issue an administrative order to mandate only cases where tenants have secured a retainer with a RTC attorney can move forward with their cases and that all cases will be adjourned until that retainer is in place.
Tenant advocates also called on New York State elected officials to pass additional housing measurements, including Good Cause Eviction legislations and to fully fund the Housing Access Voucher Program.
“We know that there are hundreds of tenants like Allilsa facing unjust evictions everyday,” said Nicole Krishhtul, Housing Organizer with the New York City Comptroller’s Office. “Tenants aren’t getting the legal representation they need to stand a fighting chance in housing court. We’re calling on the City of New York to strengthen Right to Counsel and for the state to pass statewide Right to Counsel and Good Cause Eviction Protections.”
Across New York State, over a million tenants do not have RTC or basic protections when it comes to potential evictions. Many are harassed by their landlords, priced out of their apartments and sometimes forced to self-evict.
“Every single person facing an eviction deserves a lawyer,” said John Francis, Deputy Public Advocate. “We know what happens when tenants don’t have legal representation – I know because I used to work in housing court as a tenants’ rights attorney. Right to Counsel has been massively successful. We will do all we can to defend Right to Counsel and expand funding for Right to Counsel. Albany must pass essential legislation like Good Cause and the Housing Access Voucher Program.”