Is housing a right? New York is an example of what could be to come.
Sometimes, the price of not earning enough money is not being able to pay rent and ultimately eviction.
Many Americans are making trade-offs between food, bills and housing. In emergencies, paying rent might have to come last.
We spoke with Charles Koepp, an eviction defense attorney in New York City, to learn lessons about ways to support people facing eviction.
Most evictions are due to nonpayment. Without representation, people have to go to court and stay there to file their paperwork. That’s a day of work, which often costs them wages when they don’t ave money to pay rent in the first place.
There are so many eviction cases that landlords’ attorneys are slammed. Lawyers like Mr. Koepp are not practicing law as much a helping people navigate the legal system.
Are rents too high? Are there too few rentals available to meet demand?
Do people not earn enough?
Is there ill-intent? Are landlords pushing the limits of what the market will bear without regard to people’s lives?
In some cases, landlords do want to get people out so they can raise the rent.
In New York, new legislation guarantees that tenants have the right to obtain counsel in eviction proceedings. New York’s law reflects the belief that housing is a right, so people deserve the benefit of an expert to help them navigate the system. New York also offers people a subsidy, which pays the rent while they look for a new place to live.
What does your state seem to believe?
If people are concerned about being evicted, keep proof that you paid rent and the communications between you and the landlord about paying rent.
If you have been evicted, call a non-profit legal services organization in our town to help you navigate the legal system. There could be options you don’t know about.
Maybe the government could even explain and educate people about the options to help them figure it out.