The city is going to pay lawyers to fight lawyers from its own Housing Authority.
In what appears to be a first-in-the-nation program, the de Blasio administration will provide free legal services to New York City Housing Authority tenants facing eviction by the city-run agency’s lawyers.
It’s all part of a bill signed into law Friday by the mayor to add $93 million over the next five years for legal representation for all low-income tenants in Housing Court.
The initiative will include 10 to 15 ZIP codes at first — and cover the entire city by 2022.
Starting in October, public-housing tenants will also be able to take advantage of the free city legal service — even though it’s the government that’s trying to give them the boot.
The program will apply to NYCHA tenants who have eviction cases in Housing Court or in administrative proceedings, where about 3,200 eviction cases are heard each year.
Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, said it would make more sense to invest the new funds in the aging public-housing stock.
“Any money spent would be better served putting back into the NYCHA infrastructure,” said Strasburg, whose organization represents 25,000 private landlords. “The infrastructure is literally falling apart.”
He predicted the bill would backlog court calenders and stretch out the length of time tenants can stay in NYCHA buildings without being evicted.
“A lot of people who really need housing and are in line to get NYCHA housing are going to have to wait a lot longer because of this, and it should not be allowed,” Strasburg said.
Presumptive GOP mayoral nominee Nicole Malliotakis called the new law “insane.”
“Only in Bill de Blasio’s New York would you find the taxpayer picking up the legal fees on both sides in an eviction case,” she said.
The mayor eagerly defended providing free legal services for NYCHA tenants, saying it creates “good accountability.”
“We came to the decision that if we are running things the right way, there is no reason there shouldn’t be representation for tenants, for residents, and it also creates good accountability,” he said on WNYC radio before signing the bill on Friday.
“It is an encouragement to everyone up and down the line to do things right, knowing that the residents will also have legal representation.” By 2022, the overall program will serve a total of 400,000 tenants, costing the city about $155 million annually….