JustCause launches pro bono programme for tenants facing eviction in Brighton

JustCause launches pro bono programme for tenants facing eviction in Brighton

JustCause is recruiting pro bono volunteer lawyers to represent tenants in eviction proceedings at Brighton Municipal Court.

JustCause staff and volunteer attorneys are planning to be in court for the first session of the new eviction defense program at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to represent individuals facing eviction who cannot afford an attorney.

The project is modeled after JustCause’s similar pro bono program at Irondequoit Town Court. Both initiatives are part of a countywide Tenant Defense Program operated in collaboration with other local legal services agencies, including the Legal Aid Society, LawNY, and Empire Justice Center.

The effort was created to increase access to legal information, advice and representation for tenants facing eviction throughout Monroe County.

According to the United States Census Bureau, more than 44% of Brighton residents rent their homes, and evictions in Monroe County have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evictions can uproot families, leading to homelessness and often causing or exacerbating serious financial problems, forcing children to move to new schools.

The impacts can be mitigated by effective representation. For example, attorneys can negotiate time to move out or reduce back rent or prevent an eviction altogether.

According to the Center for American Progress, only 10 percent of renters facing eviction have an attorney, while 90 percent of landlords are represented.

The Brighton City Court project was supported by Judge Vikram Vilkhu.

“As a judge, I am committed to ensuring that all litigants are equal before the law and that the Court operates efficiently. This program will advance both of these goals by providing access to affordable, high-quality legal advice and representation to tenants in Brighton Town Court eviction proceedings,” he said.

Eviction matters will be consolidated into one evening court hearing, one Wednesday each month, to ensure pro bono attorneys are available to represent tenants.

Attorneys interested in volunteering should contact CaTyra Polland by email at (email protected).