- The right to counsel program, signed into law in 2017, is meant to address the legal disparity in a city where historically only one in 10 tenants in housing court had a lawyer, while most landlords had legal representation. The program has become a model for other cities and states trying to limit displacement and homelessness amid rising rents and advancing gentrification.
San Francisco and Newark, N.J., have passed similar legislation over the past year. Now lawmakers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Minnesota are considering statewide proposals to provide free attorneys to struggling renters.
A recent study by the Community Service Society of New York found that evictions declined more than five times faster in ZIP codes where the right to counsel law was in effect than in ZIP codes where the law was not.