February 4, 2019
NEW YORK— The de Blasio Administration today announced that residential evictions by marshals declined 37 percent since 2013, with approximately 18,000 evictions in 2018 compared to nearly 29,000 evictions in 2013. In 2018 alone, evictions decreased 14 percent, with 3,000 households and more than 8,000 New Yorkers across the five boroughs able to remain in their homes as a result. Since 2013, more than 100,000 New Yorkers who might otherwise have faced evictions have been able to stay in their homes.
“When we came into office only one in a hundred tenants fighting for their homes in housing court had a lawyer and today it’s one in three,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “To New Yorkers facing harassment and eviction: we have your back and you are not alone. We’re turning the tide against displacement by providing free legal services to people in need, since we believe tenants shouldn’t walk into Housing Court alone when their home is at stake.”
Over the course of the de Blasio Administration, residential evictions have steadily declined year-over-year in every borough. In Manhattan, evictions are down 47 percent since 2013.
This decline in evictions follows a milestone in the Administration’s efforts to combat homelessness and protect housing stability through its commitment to providing legal services for tenants facing eviction and displacement: as of June 2018, the City has provided nearly a quarter million New Yorkers with legal representation, advice, or assistance in eviction and other housing-related matters through tenant legal services programs at the Human Resources Administration’s Office of Civil Justice, including New York City’s Universal Access to Legal Counsel program, the nation’s first and largest initiative to ensure that every tenant facing eviction in Housing Court can access free legal services.
Since 2014, the City has dedicated unprecedented funding for legal assistance for tenants facing eviction and harassment, increasing overall investment 17-fold from $6 million in Fiscal Year 2013 to over $104 million in Fiscal Year 2019.
“Preventing evictions and ensuring housing stability provides the essential foundation for New Yorkers to access opportunity,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “From families with children facing homelessness to seniors living on limited incomes to individuals working hard to make ends meet or get back on their feet, our City is working hard to guarantee any household in need can access resources to help them keep their homes. This program is a model that all New Yorkers should be proud of and that cities across the country can look to as they too fight the nationwide challenges of poverty and homelessness.”
“The substantial reduction in residential evictions by marshals is a testament to the critical difference that providing counsel makes in protecting tenants from evictions from their homes and neighborhoods,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “As we implement this important first-in-the nation initiative, we will continue leveling the playing field for tenants in need across the five boroughs.”
“Having a safe, stable home is crucial for people to achieve their full potential,” said Human Resources Administrator Grace Bonilla. “HRA’s Universal Access to Counsel initiative is giving low income New Yorkers a fighting chance in housing court by leveling the playing field and giving them the tools and support they need to remain in their homes and neighborhoods.”
“This latest decline in the number of evictions demonstrates that the administration’s comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to protecting tenants is paying off,” said Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “At HPD, we are working on multiple fronts to ensure that New Yorkers live in safe and quality housing, including designing new tools to protect tenants and hold landlords accountable, from an expanded Certification of No Harassment Program, a new Speculation Watch List, and a new Tenant Anti-Harassment Unit. We will continue to push the envelope to keep New Yorkers in their homes and neighborhoods.”
Through the Universal Access initiative, 400,000 New Yorkers facing eviction are expected to receive legal assistance annually when the program is fully implemented in 2022, with annual funding for legal services for tenants increasing to $155 million. In Fiscal Year 2018 alone, 33,000 households representing 87,400 New Yorkers received legal representation and advice, including over 25,000 households representing 69,000 New Yorkers facing eviction in Housing Court. In 2013, only 6,500 households representing 23,000 individuals had City-funded legal services.
The first phase of Universal Access included increasing access to free legal representation in Housing Court to low-income New Yorkers in fifteen zip codes across New York City that were identified as having high levels of eviction filings, shelter entry, and rent regulated housing. During the second phase other high risk zip codes were added, one in each borough, for a total of twenty zip codes across the city.
The impact of the HRA’s tenant legal assistance programs has been remarkable:
“These latest eviction numbers confirm what we already know — when tenants are given a fair chance to fight in housing court, they will win. Since we began our push to create Universal Access to Counsel for tenants facing eviction in housing court, we have seen an unprecedented 37% decline in the number of people forced to leave their homes. I look forward to continue working with the Administration to ensure even more New Yorkers have access to legal representation, and get a fair chance to stay in their homes, off the streets, and out of the shelter system,” said Council Member Mark Levine, who sponsored of the City’s landmark Universal Access to Counsel Law.
“Having a lawyer present for eviction proceedings can mean the difference between losing your home and staying in it. No matter your income or finances, every tenant should have that legal representation, and these statistics show what a positive impact the Mayors program has had on New Yorkers at risk of losing their residence. I applaud the results of the Mayors proven initiative,” said Congress Member Gregory W. Meeks.
“The first step in both stemming the tide of homelessness and combatting New York City’s affordable housing crisis is to make sure that those who have homes can stay in them,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “As we continue to see the impact of the Right to Counsel initiative, I thank the de Blasio administration for giving thousands of New Yorkers new access to legal services.”
"Thanks to New York City's initiative to provide legal services for tenants facing eviction and displacement, thousands of people across the five boroughs have been able to remain in their homes," said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Chair of the Senate Housing Committee. "I commend Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Banks, and the Human Resources Administration for effectively implementing the initial stage of the program, Councilmember Mark Levine and his colleagues in the City Council for their strong, early advocacy for right to counsel legislation, and all the attorneys, advocates, and organizers who work tirelessly to ensure that justice is done and New Yorkers are protected from unwarranted evictions. I look forward to seeing this program expand its reach over the next several years."
"This decline in evictions marks the continuation of a positive trend for our communities and New York City as a whole, but most of all it's good news for the thousands of individuals and families who have been able to stay in their apartments and avoid the tragedy of homelessness," said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee. "For these residents, it is empowering to know that legal assistance is available to them during a stressful time that allows them to take charge and safeguard their family's future."
“It is extremely heartening to see such a significant reduction in tenant evictions, especially over the course of the past year,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. “This is a great indicator that the work we did at the New York City Council to make legal representation available to all tenants in housing court is having a serious impact. As Chair of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, I look forward to continuing to work with my Council colleagues and the Administration in pursuing additional steps to keep even more New Yorkers in their homes.”
Protecting tenants is a core part of the City’s strategy to confront the affordable housing crisis. Interagency enforcement is key in our efforts to ensure all New Yorkers have the safe housing they deserve. Last year, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) attempted more than 700,000 inspections and issued more than 522,000 violations. When landlords do not address the most severe violations, HPD takes them to court. In 2018 HPD initiated over 7,000 Housing Court cases and collected $7 million in settlements and judgments.
Call 311 or visit the Office of Civil Justice website at www.nyc.gov/civiljustice for legal help fighting eviction.