Legal Aid Society

A Day In The Life

Preventing Mass Evictions in the Civil Law Reform Unit

There’s another crisis on the horizon for New York City. Once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic – with infection rates skyrocketing, an exodus of wealthy residents, and a pop-up hospital in Central Park – New York now boasts one of the lowest infection rates in the country. And yet, thousands of residents are on the verge of another tragedy: eviction and homelessness.

There were 200,000 eviction cases pending in New York City before the state declared an eviction moratorium. Since then, thousands of tenants have lost their jobs, leaving them unable to afford rent. As we approach the deadline of the eviction moratorium on December 31, The Legal Aid Society is leading the charge to keep New Yorkers in their homes.

Evictions would drive a public health crisis that affects us all.

This new crisis could not come at a worse time. From a public health perspective, forcing people out of their homes during the second wave of this pandemic would likely drive an increase in infections city-wide. “Evictions would drive a public health crisis that affects us all,” says Judith Goldiner, the Attorney-in-Charge of our Civil Law Reform Unit. Her team has been pushing lawmakers to uphold the eviction moratorium and improve protections for tenants. “We will do everything in our power to make sure people have shelter.”

Judith and her team are trying to defend tenants from slipping into homelessness. Although New York City has a right to shelter, the shelter system is already past capacity: 70,000 New Yorkers are sleeping in shelters every night. Judith and her colleagues are prepared to fight for our most vulnerable, promising that if the city does not meet its obligation to “shelter people, they will get sued. We can’t see the level of homelessness that will result if the government doesn’t start stepping in.”

Judith and her team are not only saving homes – they are saving lives. A recent report found that more than 10,000 New Yorkers survived the harshest months of the pandemic because of the eviction moratorium. Vulnerable tenants with nowhere else to turn could have ended up on the streets with no protection from the COVID-19 pandemic. “The results are clear: eviction moratoriums in the midst of a pandemic save lives,” said Judith. She and her team will continue to fight for tenants in the midst of this public health crisis.

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