Elected officials, tenants and community groups on April 3 rallied outside of Brooklyn Eviction Court to support a Flatbush tenant facing imminent eviction and demand the passage of statewide Good Cause eviction protections, statewide right to counsel, and a winter eviction moratorium.
According to Housing Justice for All, a statewide coalition of more than 80 organizations representing tenants and homeless New Yorkers, Fidele Albert, a longtime tenant activist, “who has been fighting years of abuse at the hands of her landlord, is facing an unjust retaliatory eviction that Good Cause Evictions would prevent.”
Following the rally, Fidele’s supporters joined her for her eviction hearing. Her eviction case will now go to trial, Housing Justice for All told Caribbean Life.
A JustFix survey found that nearly 40 percent of New York City tenants reported facing retaliation for calling 311 to register housing complaints.
Housing Justice for All said Good Cause legislation would protect tenants like Albert from retaliatory evictions and unconscionable rent hikes.
“I called 311 and filed a complaint. Then the HPD inspector came and documented code violations. My landlord then retaliated by putting a 90-day-notice on my bedroom door telling me to vacate my apartment – and he’s still continuing to harass me thereafter. No one should have to worry about where they’re going to live just because they ask for decent conditions,” Albert said.
Housing Justice for All said Kings County had 30,480 evictions filed last year, and that rents in Brooklyn have spiked more than 30 percent from last year.
In New York, it said Black women like Fidele are more than twice as likely to be evicted as white tenants.
A Cornell report released last week found that high rates of evictions are linked to increased crime.
Statewide tenant Right to Counsel would guarantee tenants legal representation in eviction cases. Modeled after the pandemic eviction moratoria, which kept tenants securely housed, prevented homelessness, and protected tenants from exposure-related health problems and death, a Winter Eviction Moratorium (S1403/A4093) will ban eviction from Nov. 1 through April 15 each year.
Community groups at the rally included members of the Housing Justice for All and Right to Counsel coalitions, including Crown Heights Tenant Union, Churches United For Fair Housing, New York City Democratic Socialists of America, Met Council on Housing, Brooklyn Eviction Defense, Anti Displacement NYC and the Communist Party. A representative from Assemblymember Marcela Mitayanes’s office also attended the rally, Housing Justice for All said.
Albert is a Flatbush tenant and member of the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, Crown Heights Tenant Union and Brooklyn Eviction Defense, “who has been dealing with intense harassment for three years from her landlord,” Housing Justice for All said.
It said the landlord is currently trying to evict Albert “in retaliation for standing up for her rights after Albert spoke up about unsafe living conditions.”
Housing Justice for All claimed that the landlord “locked Albert out of her bathroom, refused access to the kitchen, blocked access to a shower for an extended amount of time, and has shut off her lights and electricity.”
Housing Justice for All said addressing the state’s growing housing crisis is at the top of Albany’s priority list, with tenant protections as a central flashpoint.
Both the Senate and Assembly released one-house budget resolutions that included Good Cause for the first time, as well as a new rental assistance program, the Housing Access Voucher Program.
Housing Justice for All claimed that Gov. Hochul has “refused to support any meaningful protections in her Executive Budget, focusing instead on boosting housing production.”
On April 2, hundreds of tenants from across the state rallied in Albany to demand the passage of Good Cause in the budget, with 36 tenants arrested after blocking the doors to Gov. Hochul’s office.
Housing Justice for All said Good Cause eviction protections would require landlords to show they have a “good cause,” such as non-payment or violating the terms of the lease, in order to evict a tenant.
Under the current system, landlords can successfully retaliate against and evict tenants who are fighting for decent conditions because landlords do not have to show they have a “good cause” to evict, Housing Justice for All said.
It said tenants could also use Good Cause to challenge rent increases of over 3 percent or 150 percent of the Consumer Price Index in eviction court, requiring landlords to justify rent increases by demonstrating increased