Council passes bill to give free help to some in housing court

Low-income tenants will soon have free help in housing court.

The City Council voted in favor of the "Right to Counsel" bill Thursday, which requires the Office of Civil Justice to provide legal representation for all low-income New Yorkers facing eviction within five years.

The bill also establishes a pilot program to provide legal services to public housing residents in administrative proceedings this fall.

City Councilman Mark Levine, who introduced the bill, said it will help change the lives of some city residents.

"I'm just exhilarated this is the beginning of a new era for tenants in New York City. Never again do we have to worry about tenants losing their home and maybe landing in a homeless shelter simply because they didn't have access to an attorney," the Manhattan councilman said.

New York is now the first city in the country to guarantee free legal representation to tenants.

The program is expected to help more than 400,000 tenants a year.  

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