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Get Help For The Accused

Friday, February 12, 2016

At The Fortune Society, we see the devastating individual and family impact of homelessness on people who are trying to build positive lives despite histories of incarceration, addiction, trauma and mental illness. Without stable housing, the opportunity to build a positive, crime-free life is thrown into jeopardy.

Use of nuisance abatement to bar individuals and their family members from their homes, often when no crime will ever be proven, flies in the face of basic American values of due process and fairness. Falling disproportionately on individuals and families of color, this policy exacts a terrible human and societal price, creating homelessness at a time where reducing homelessness is a primary city priority and devastating lives on the basis of unproven accusations.

When “broken windows” justification is used to bar people from their homes before they have any opportunity to answer the charges against them or to be found guilty of any crime, it leads to broken lives and broken families.

Originally, nuisance abatement was used to bar people from their homes only after a criminal conviction justified taking such drastic action. We should return to the requirement of a criminal conviction before an individual or family can be barred from their home.

New York City prides itself on the degree to which it protects tenants and their right to remain in their homes until due process requirements are met. The same requirements should apply when nuisance abatement is concerned. Housing is so basic a human need that, when it is placed in jeopardy, the individuals affected should have the right to hear charges against them and to be able to defend themselves.

To reduce homelessness, tenants are increasingly being provided legal assistance to prevent unnecessary evictions. Such attorney representation should be provided by the city in nuisance abatement cases that jeopardize people’s ability to stay in their homes.

View the original article in the New York Daily News.

Categories: News

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