In July, New Yorkers gained a hard-won victory: Legislation passed guaranteeing low-income tenants facing eviction the right to a city-funded lawyer in Housing Court. This made New York the first city to establish a right to counsel. With more than 235,000 eviction petitions filed annually and about 22,000 marshal evictions actually carried out—mostly in the Bronx and Brooklyn—this is a major action to stem homelessness and displacement.
Pro se litigant, HP action, an order to show cause—the language of Housing Court requires a seasoned guide. Since 1981, Housing Court Answers has helped unrepresented tenants facing evictions, tenants seeking repairs or an end to landlord harassment, and small landlords seeking unpaid rent navigate the labyrinthine system. In our 12th Brass Tacks discussion, the organization’s executive director Jenny Laurie will take us through how Housing Court works, the prevalence and process of eviction cases, what the new right to counsel means for New Yorkers, and more.
Ample time for conversation will follow Jenny’s presentation. You bring the questions, we’ll supply the experts and the wine.
Jenny Laurie is the Executive Director of Housing Court Answers, where she has worked since 2008. To assist unrepresented people in Housing Court, she directs the organization’s educational efforts, including information tables and a hotline, and leads the organization’s advocacy campaigns focused on ensuring justice and fairness for the many thousands of low-income people without lawyers in Housing Court. Jenny also chairs the Emergency Rent Coalition, a group of social service and charitable organizations working to prevent evictions in New York City, and serves as a civic group representative on the Housing Court Advisory Council. Prior to 2008, Jenny directed Met Council on Housing, a membership organization focused on strengthening rights and protections for New York City tenants.
About Housing Brass Tacks
Understanding housing policy, finance, and regulation is daunting. One must wade through a sea of acronyms, untangle public and private interests, trace knotty financial flows, and decrypt complex bureaucracies. Making heads or tails of all this can take a lifetime, but the need to understand is urgent. We all feel New York City’s housing squeeze; increased affordable housing is a centerpiece of our mayor’s agenda; and sweeping changes in housing and community development policy may soon come at the federal level. The Architectural League is here to introduce (or refresh) our housing proficiency. Housing Brass Tacks is an informal discussion series designed as a primer on big ideas and essential mechanics in housing policy and development. We’re getting down to brass tacks: the fundamentals that structure this unwieldy topic.