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Newark has taken the first step to codify into law its intent to provide low-income tenants facing eviction with free legal help.
Citing the lack of affordable housing opportunities and “frivolous” eviction actions, the city plans to create a nonprofit that connects eligible tenants with legal representation in landlord-tenant court.
“People need help and as a result, we are going to make sure that a nonprofit is created so this will be done the right way,” Newark’s legal counsel Kenyatta Stewart said.
About 78 percent of Newarkers are renters. And when faced with eviction, nine out of 10 don’t have an attorney, city officials said.
The article goes on to state the following:
The first nationwide database of evictions, compiled by The Eviction Lab at Princeton University, show 22 evictions were filed for every 100 renter homes in Newark in 2016, or about 17,000. Nationally, that number is significantly lower: about 6 for every 100 renter homes.
Mayor Ras Baraka first announced his plans to emulate New York City’s “right to counsel” law in May. It ensures a free lawyer for low-income renters in eviction proceedings whose income is 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less.
On Wednesday, the City Council approved on first reading an ordinance that would create a nonprofit to handle those services. The ordinance does not cite funding sources or detail the responsibilities of the nonprofit.
Stewart said those details are still being worked out and the nonprofit has yet to be formed.
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— NJ.com (@njdotcom) August 11, 2018
— Essex Journal (@EssexJournalNJ) August 11, 2018
— NJ.com (@njdotcom) May 1, 2018