Monday, April 18 at 10am at Queens Borough Hall

(April 15, 2022 at 11:30am)

QUEENS, NY – In response to the ongoing surge in eviction proceedings being filed against New York City tenants, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr., alongside elected officials, legal service providers and housing advocates, will hold a press conference at Queens Borough Hall on Monday, April 18 at 10am to call on the state Office of Court Administration to pause the scheduling of housing court cases, ensuring low-income residents can secure legal representation through the city’s Right to Counsel (RTC) program.

In addition to the badly-needed pause, Borough President Richards will call for an expansion of the household income criteria that tenants must meet in order to be eligible for the RTC program — currently accessible to New Yorkers falling below 200 percent of the federal poverty line — as well as an increase in funding for the city’s One-Shot Deal program, which provides qualified households with a one-time financial assistance payment to help cover emergency housing-related expenses.

Following the January expiration of the COVID-19 pandemic-related eviction moratorium, more than 13,000 eviction lawsuits were filed across the five boroughs between February and March, according to reports. According to Eviction Lab, which tracks eviction proceedings, communities of color are experiencing the highest rates of eviction filings in Queens. Five ZIP codes in Queens have seen 75 or more eviction filings since March 13 — ZIP code 11434 covering South Jamaica and Springfield Gardens (186 filings), ZIP code 11368 covering Corona (156), ZIP code 11691 covering Far Rockaway and Edgemere (90), ZIP code 11372 covering Jackson Heights (84) and ZIP code 11377 covering Woodside, Sunnyside and Maspeth (75).

Under the RTC program, all tenants in New York City facing eviction in Housing Court are entitled to free, City-funded legal representation. However, the recent influx of eviction cases has overwhelmed City-funded legal assistance providers such as the Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC and New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). These organizations recently said this influx, combined with the absence of a pause in case scheduling, has led to a shortage of available attorneys. As a result, the Legal Aid Society and NYLAG are unable to accept new cases in Queens for the month of April, while Legal Services NYC is limiting its intake of Queens cases this month to just 60.

Additional steps to address housing insecurity Borough President Richards will call for include an increase in federal financial support for homeowners facing foreclosure, specifically an expansion of the Foreclosure Buyback Program, which then-Council Member Richards helped establish as a pilot initiative in Southeast Queens in 2016. The program would allow community non-profits to buy back distressed mortgages from federal housing finance agencies, giving families a better chance to refinance and remain in their homes, or otherwise convert the lots into affordable housing.

Members of the media who wish to attend the press conference are asked to RSVP by emailing [email protected] or calling 718-286-2640.

WHAT:         Borough President Richards to Call for Expanded Protections for Those Facing Eviction; Additional Housing Investments

WHEN:         Monday, April 18, 2022 at 10am

WHERE:       Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens

WHO:            DONOVAN RICHARDS JR., Queens Borough President

                      Elected officials, legal service providers and housing advocates

Follow the Office of the Queens Borough President via @QnsBPRichards on Twitter and @QueensBPRichards on Facebook and Instagram