NEW YORK (PIX11) — Attorneys are trying to keep up with all the housing eviction cases coming in across in New York City.
Tenants who are facing eviction may even have to go to court without legal representation because there are more cases than attorneys – that’s why there are growing calls to slow down the process of putting more cases on the calendar.
Since New York State’s eviction moratorium ended, new cases are pouring into housing court in Harlem, Assemblyman Edward Gibbs said Monday.
“The landlord who was very forgiving the first two years during the pandemic is now aggressively seeking money,” he said.
Luz Pena, 59, has been living in her apartment for 12 years. The pandemic put her behind on her rent.
Her biggest fear is being thrown out of her apartment.
“Maybe I have to go to a shelter or somewhere else,” she said.
According to the Harlem mom, it’s been keeping her up at night.
“I’m very nervous, sad and depressed,” she said.
And she’s not the only minority New Yorker feeling this way.
“This puts enormous stress on clients who are already baring the brunt of the pandemic – often Black and brown New Yorkers – now they have to go to court without any legal representation,” said Munonyedi Clifford, director of Housing for the Legal Aid Society in Harlem.
Under the right to counsel program, low-income New Yorkers are eligible to have an attorney represent them for free in housing court cases. But, according to attorneys in Harlem, they just can’t keep up with all the pending and new cases.
“Right now we have 20 something attorneys – every week on calendar over 100 cases are being added,” said Clifford. “The court has the power to slow things down so that people can be matched up with attorneys to help them navigate the complicated court process.”
Officials are also asking for more attorneys to step up and help.
“We need some great attorneys help these people fight housing insecurity and stay inside their developments,” added Gibbs.