NYCHA seniors who fear eviction can get a free lawyer

City leaders say seniors living in NYCHA housing will now be able to get a free lawyer if they are facing eviction.

Councilmember Vanessa Gibson says housing is a fundamental right and seniors living in NYCHA should be protected. Friday, Gibson joined councilmember Ritchie Torres to announce some good news for seniors living in public housing.

“I would say hundreds seniors could be saved,” said Gibson.

PIX11 has been covering seniors facing eviction in public housing for years. One of the most recent high profile eviction cases, 72-year-old Bienvenido Martinez, evicted from his home after his leg was amputated.

All of Martinez's furniture and personal items were thrown out by NYCHA. After public outrage, Martinez got a new home.

“NYCHA is one of the biggest slumlords we have, it’s true,” said Gibson.

Friday, at the Butler Houses, Gibson and Torres announced details on what’s called the Right to Counsel expansion for NYCHA seniors.

"NYCHA is one of the worst evictees in the city," said Torres. "Not just one of the worst landlords, but one of the worst evictors. In 2018 alone, 838 families lost their homes in the hands of the NYCHA.”

Seniors 62 years of age and older, who are head of household and meet income requirements are eligible.

“84 percent of seniors who enter housing court with an attorney are able to successfully avoid eviction. An attorney can mean the difference between having a home and losing a home,” said Torres.

Torres says the Bronx has the highest rates of evictions in the city.

"There is nothing more traumatic for a senior than eviction," Torres said. The goal is to keep seniors in their homes.

If you need more information check out right to counsel coalition, visit Evictionfreenyc.org.

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