Committee on Aging Hears Bill Aimed to Safeguard Elderly Renters

Image credit: New York City Council.

Int. 673-2022 would entitle renters over the age of 60 to full legal representation at no cost. On September 7, 2022, the New York City Council’s Committee on Aging held a public hearing on Introduction 673-2022. The bill would entitle renters over the age of 60 to full legal representation at no cost in cases of eviction or termination of tenancy, as well as require the Department for the Aging to provide financial assistance and a housing support program for those at risk.

Council Member Crystal Hudson sponsored the bill at the public hearing. She cited a recent AARP survey that found “77 percent of adults 50 or older want to remain in their homes for the long term,” and one in three households with an adult over age 62 in New York are burdened by rent. With rising costs, however, staying in a rental unit is more difficult than ever. To make matters worse, many elderly renters have limited community support, leaving them at a loss when confronted with threatened evictions, unfair rental practices, and legal action in housing court.

“We have a responsibility to ensure older adults can live with dignity,” said Hudson.

Int. 673-2022 was presented as part of a package including Int. 674-2022 and Int. 672-2022, both similarly dedicated to improving quality of life and access to resources for seniors. Int. 674-2022 would require the NYC Department for the Aging to create a pamphlet informing older adults of their rights on various topics; Int. 672-2022 would require the Department to include linguistic and cultural programs relevant to local communities at their older adult center locations.

Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, Commissioner of the NYC Department for the Aging, testified in support of the bills and advertising other services Aging provides. She expressed uncertainty, however, as to whether her department had the resources to facilitate the assistance Int 673-2022 would require.

Public Reception

Many community members praised Int 673-2022 as necessary, and in some cases long-overdue.

Kevin Jones, Associate State Director for Advocacy, AARP NY, and James Fenton, Senior Staff Attorney of Volunteers for Legal Service, both spoke passionately in favor of the bill.”Landlords continue to push forward with their efforts to force out long-term tenants in rent-regulated housing, many of whom are older adults,” said Fenton, who also spoke to the frequency with which seniors fell through the cracks in other programs.

Others worried that available services were already stretched thin to accommodate the need for low- or no-cost representation, and that an increase in eligibility could be functionally meaningless if it were not accompanied by an increase in supply. Janine Jackson, Supervising Attorney for the Legal Aid Society, was joined in her concerns by Shehila Stephens, Senior Director of Programs at Encore Community Services, who appeared virtually via Zoom. Stephens cited “significant delays in getting seniors the support they deserve, especially as it relates to eviction prevention services,” largely as a result of limited funding; Jackson suggested that the bill could be improved if it guaranteed ongoing rental subsidies to elders. They both approved of the bill’s intent, however, and agreed that Int. 673-2022 addresses a pressing issue.

Int. 673-2022 was introduced to City Council at its Stated meeting on September 14, 2022 and referred to the Committee on Aging. It currently remains laid over in committee.

By: Kyle Hunt (Kyle is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)

CC: Committee on Aging, Sept. 7, 2022

3 thoughts on “Committee on Aging Hears Bill Aimed to Safeguard Elderly Renters

  1. Not all the elderly (60 is not elderly, the person is still working) are dolts who can’t take care of themselves .Individual cases may need help but an across-the-board right to a free attorney is unnecessary and wasteful of city resources.

    • Yes, as of Jan. 19th the City Council voted to approve this bill. CityLand will be posting an article about this in the future.

      – Veronica Rose, CityLaw Fellow

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