You may also go to YouTube to watch the full briefing.

During his weekly Westchester briefing, Latimer discussed:

  • Guest: Town of Mamaroneck Supervisor Jaine Elkind Eney
  • COVID update
  • Introduction of legislation creating the Office of Housing Counsel.

According to the 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, New York State has the highest rate of homelessness in the country, with 92,000 New Yorkers currently experiencing homelessness. Moreover, as stated in a 2016 report by Stout Risius Ross, a global advisory firm, a staggering 1.2 million households are behind on rent and landlords are actively trying to evict more than 236,000 tenants statewide. According to the New York City Right to Counsel Coalition, 220,000 evictions are pending in New York courts, including town, village, and justice courts.

Across the state an overwhelming majority of landlords are represented during eviction proceedings, whereas most tenants are not. Currently, low-income tenants in Westchester County are not guaranteed access to legal counsel in eviction proceedings. Right to counsel, where legal counsel is provided at no cost to low income tenants, has proven to be very successful at preventing evictions and protecting tenants’ rights, especially now, given the recently enacted complex tenant protection laws.

This proposed legislation would establish an Office of Housing Counsel within the County Department of Social Services charged with overseeing a right to counsel program in Westchester County, developing an implementation plan for establishment of a program to provide access to legal services for income-eligible individuals, defined as a person whose household income is not in excess of 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, who are subject to eviction proceedings in city courts within the County or in administrative proceedings for tenants of buildings operated by public housing authorities located in cities within the County.