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Law would give tenants free attorneys in housing court

Posted at 11:06 PM, Jun 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-01 23:32:10-04

NEW YORK (PIX11)– A staggering nearly 30,000 families were evicted from their homes in 2013 – The Bronx had the most evictions out of any borough.

These are statistics that drove council members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson to push for a law that would require housing courts to provide free attorneys to low income tenants fighting to save their homes if they couldn’t afford representation themselves.

Levine said only 10 percent of tenants who head to housing court have attorneys.

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Dillard is now filming commercials for POTS and CASA.

“(Landlords) want to get rent stabilized tenants out,” Levine said. “They know (tenants) don’t have lawyers so what do they do? They haul them to housing courts on bogus charges.”

Randy Dillard was one such tenant – he said he lost his Section 8 benefits after he claimed his landlord didn’t fix violations. A loss of benefits eventually led to his eviction.

“When I first went into housing court before I got my lawyer, I felt empty,” Dillard said. “I asked for a hearing, I didn’t get a hearing until I got a lawyer, then they recognized me but they didn’t recognize me as a tenant at all.”

Dillard got help from housing advocacy organizations POTS and CASA, and how he’s filming ads for them trying to bring attention to tenants’ rights.

He fought for 18 months with his attorney and is finally getting his Section 8 benefits restored, and moving to a new apartment.