Tenants, housing advocates demand attorneys for thousands of pending eviction cases in NYC

MELROSE, Bronx (WABC) -- Tenants and housing advocates in the Bronx are demanding action to slow down the number of eviction cases in New York City housing courts.

"We are here to sound the alarm about what's happening in this building, right now, today," Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said.

An avalanche of eviction proceedings are taking place in New York City. More than 200,000 are currently pending.

"The number of eviction cases is so big and growing so fast that it has now overwhelmed the legal protection system we put in place," Levine said.

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When the pandemic era moratorium ended in January, tenants rights advocates pushed hard to make sure every person would have free legal representation, under a New York City law enacted in 2017. But that's apparently not happening.

"I've had neighbors come to me and knock on my door and they say Ms. Sanchez, Ms. Sanchez, I went to my first appointment and I did not have an attorney," New York City councilmember Piernia Sanchez said.

"Before, we used to see one case every 30 minutes. Now we're seeing one case every 15 minutes," councilmember Shaun Abreu said.

Of the pending evictions, the highest number is the in Bronx, with more than 6,000 filings, followed by 4,100 in Brooklyn, 3,500 in Manhattan, 2,900 in Queens, and fewer than 500 on Staten Island.
"Adjournment is the solution where cases are unrepresented, number one," Abreu said. "The office of court administration should set an upper limit on the number of cases that one judge puts on a calendar at one time."

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Still, the number of filings from January to March of this year is 1,700, compared to more than 55,000 before the pandemic in 2019.

The Rent Stabilization Association says "The eviction tsunami has not materialized. Housing court is where tenants are connected to rent-assistance programs that keep them in their homes."

"We want the same right they have, the same right," councilmember Althea Stevens said.

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