Newark to provide free legal aid for low-income renters facing eviction

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NEWARK, N.J. — Newark is planning to follow New York's lead and provide free legal services for low-income and vulnerable tenants facing eviction.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the proposed ordinance Tuesday.

"We want to make sure that the most vulnerable in our society and in our city have access to legal representation," he said.

De Blasio signed a law last year making New York the first city in the country to guarantee low-income residents the right to representations in eviction cases.

Baraka says he wants to begin Newark's program in September, and it will eventually cost the city between $750,000 and $1 million. While the city is raising the money, it will use the services of law firms that have agreed to work on a pro bono basis.

About 78 percent of residents in the city are renters. Baraka said the program will initially focus on providing services for the disabled, elderly and people who have entered the U.S. illegally.

Baraka estimated that approximately half of the 40,000 annual eviction cases filed in Essex County involve low- and moderate-income Newark residents.

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