At least 80 percent of landlords have lawyers in Housing Court; 99 percent of tenants do not. Legal representation can be expensive, and coming to court without a lawyer can be intimidating and confusing, potentially having a major effect on a verdict. That's why we helped launch a pilot program in Brooklyn called Court Navigators.
Our court navigators are trained non-lawyers that assist unrepresented litigants in housing cases. These navigators accompany litigants to court and respond to questions from the judge, providing moral support and information to litigants. Navigators can also help tenants keep paperwork in order, assist them in accessing interpreters and other services and, before they even enter the courtroom, explain what to expect.
This program represents a partnership with two other groups that serve different levels in the process. First, Housing Court Answers will be at the court during the early petition stages – before a date is set – to answer any questions about forms and determine if additional help is needed. Representatives will refer tenants needing additional assistance to either a New York State Access to Justice Navigator – who is on-site the day of hearings – or, in cases where individuals need additional preparation and help, the Housing Court Answers representative will direct them to us.
Our program is the first of its kind in NYC. We're here to level the playing field and tackle the threat of eviction head on, and we're not alone. New York's Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman led the charge to establish this program, and we even received support from the editorial staff of the New York Times.
To learn more about our eviction prevention and housing support services, contact Project Home.
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