March 18, 2016
FOR TENANTS IN CROWN HEIGHTS AND PROSPECT-LEFFERTS GARDENS, NEIGHBORHOODS FACING INCREASING RISK FOR RESIDENTIAL DISPLACEMENT
BROOKLYN, NY, March 18, 2016: Today, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams announced a free “Tenants: Know Your Rights” workshop on Thursday, March 24th from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, at Grace Reform Church, located at 1800 Bedford Avenue in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Tenants will have the ability to speak in English or Spanish with advocates and lawyers from Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A (Brooklyn A) about their rights under federal, state, and local laws to protection from unfair practices by landlords. Borough President Adams spoke about the clinic as an extension of his continued efforts to support neighborhoods that are experiencing an increasing risk for tenant harassment; according to data compiled by MNS Real Estate, the cost of the average market-rate rental in Crown Heights and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens rose almost eight percent in the last year.
“With the continued increase in rents, the lack of quality affordable housing has contributed to a crisis in which families in many parts of Brooklyn are threatened with forced displacement from their homes,” said Borough President Adams. “We will not allow illegal tenant harassment undermine the rights of anyone in our community. We stand as One Brooklyn that will protect the rights of families and older adults to remain in their homes here in our borough.”
“We are thrilled to join Borough President Adams’ office in collaboration on this important project,” said Caroline Iosso, fair housing advocate for Brooklyn A. “It is crucial that tenants know that they have rights not only to basic services and repairs in their homes, but also to be free from housing discrimination. Throughout Brooklyn, we work with tenants who are denied repairs because of their race, face harassment because of their citizenship status, are denied housing because of a disability, or can’t find housing because they pay rent with a Section 8 voucher. Educating communities about their fair housing rights and helping them to take action to enforce these rights is at the core a piece of Brooklyn A’s expansive work to curb neighborhood displacement and residential segregation.”
Additional partners on Borough President Adams’ legal clinic include State Senator Jesse Hamilton, Assembly Member Diana Richardson, and Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.
“Too many tenants face being pushed to the margins in neighborhoods they have called home for decades, and too many tenants face harassment from unscrupulous landlords trying to make a quick buck,” said State Senator Hamilton. “That is why it is critical to present this ‘Tenants: Know Your Rights clinic — to connect tenants with the advice they need. I am proud to work in cooperation with Borough President Adams, Assembly Member Richardson, and Council Member Cumbo to deliver resources to protect tenants. Armed with sound counsel, tenants can successfully assert their rights and keep calling our neighborhood home.”
“Very few tenants understand what they are entitled to in the state of New York. It is extremely important that we have programs like the ‘Tenants: Know Your Rights’ clinic available to put power back into the hands of everyday working class people,” said Assembly Member Richardson. “We have seen hard-working tenants with families pushed out of their homes, and it is imperative that we leave very little room for relentless tactics often carried out by landlords.”
“I am proud to partner with Borough President Adams to empower tenants facing displacement across Brooklyn,” said Council Member Cumbo. “From exorbitant rent increases to poor maintenance, some landlords have used illegal tactics to force longtime residents out of their homes and communities. Through the ‘Tenants: Know Your Rights’ clinic, we can ensure that all tenants are well-informed about their rights to protect themselves against displacement.”
Last summer, Borough President Adams held a series of hearings in Downtown Brooklyn, East Flatbush, and Williamsburg that identified scores of constituent cases with the potential for civil or criminal liability, which his office is currently reviewing alongside legal advocates. Additionally, he held a tenant harassment legal clinic in December with Brooklyn Legal Services and the Legal Aid Society targeting residents of Brownsville, Cypress Hills, and East New York; in the coming months, he plans to bring similar outreach efforts to other Brooklyn neighborhoods. Borough President Adams also continues to offer the Access to Legal Service program at Brooklyn Borough Hall, a partnership with the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project and Legal Services NYC Brooklyn; the initiative, which individuals can make an appointment for by calling (718) 802-3777, provides foreclosure intervention and prevention assistance on the second Wednesday of every month from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM and assistance for individuals with elder law and/or housing concerns on the second Thursday of every month from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. A listing of fair housing rights information, compiled by Borough President Adams and Brooklyn A, is available online by visiting brooklyn-usa.org/housing-resources.