Our law firm is devoted to the principle that housing is a human right. We yearn for a society that values human rights over property rights, that guarantees stable and affordable shelter to its entire populace, a society whose Constitution prohibits evictions. This is not, of course, the state of America today, nor has it ever been. But ours is a vision shared by housing advocates everywhere.
We believe that so long as the commodification of housing exists, there will always be homelessness and housing inequities, such as:
In New York City, approximately 300,000 housing court cases are brought yearly, of which roughly 25,000 result in an eviction.
A substantial portion of tenants spend more than 30% of their income on rent.
Two-thirds of tenants in rent regulated apartments earn less than $30,000 a year.
Although we are lawyers, we do not regard the legal arena as the primary venue for social change. Rather, the movements and struggles of grassroots activists and progressive organizations are the essential catalysts in improving peoples lives. For this reason McGuire & Zekaria volunteers its services to various community groups whose agendas coincide with our vision of housing rights.
Twice a month, our firm offers free counsel at legal clinics sponsored by two neighborhood tenant organizations: Housing Conservation Coordinators and Eviction Intervention Services.
Housing Conservation Coordinators (HCC)
For twenty-five years, HCC has existed as a staunch tenant rights organization, primary serving the Hell's Kitchen/Clinton communities. Kyle Stewart is HCC's current executive director. Three tenant advocates and two attorneys staff the tenant organizing component.
HCC sponsors boiler/building maintenance classes where superintendents and others receive technical training in how to maintain buildings. HCC also participates in a Weatherization Program, acting as facilitator between the U.S. Department of Energy and landlords to ensure proper heat and boiler systems in residential buildings. HCC employee Nancy Kyriakou is often appointed a 7-A Administrator of buildings taken away from landlords who neglect to provide services for residents.
HCC Intake Days
Monday: 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Thursday: 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
No appointment necessary
HCC Legal Clinic
Monday: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Conducted by volunteer attorneys, including Colleen, who dispense free legal advice. No appointment necessary.
HCC Contact Information
777 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10019
Eviction Intervention Services (EIS)
EIS is a not-for-profit group whose purpose is to prevent homelessness. It was founded in 1984 by its president, Gloria Milliken. since January 1998, Karen Ingenthron has been the executive director. EIS has a strong focus on senior citizens, such as its Elder Abuse Prevention Project, Legal Clinic for Seniors, and free tax filing services for the elderly from February through April.
EIS also sponsors three tenant training seminars a year, which Colleen participates in. One of the training seminars is geared specifically toward senior citizens.
EIS Legal Clinic:
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., by appointment (Colleen comes the first Tuesday of each month)
Wednesdays, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., for seniors only
EIS Contact Information:
150 East 62nd Street
New York, NY 10021
Tenant.Net is a Website devoted exclusively to residential tenants, focussing mainly on landlord-tenant relations in New York City.
Colleen is the editor of the Housing Court Decisions page of Tenant.Net.
Most Housing Court decisions are not found in bound law books, but rather are printed in the New York Law Journala publication to which few non-lawyers subscribe. As a result, judicial rulings involving landlord-tenant cases are not very accessible to lay people.
Beginning in February, 1996, Colleen began summarizing the weekly Housing Court decisions published in the New York Law Journal. She also provides commentary to various cases, pointing out the importance or significance of a particular ruling. She tries to make the site comprehensible to non-lawyers by minimizing the legalese. In November, 1997, Linda Rzesniowiecki, Esq. was invited on board as a co-editor.
Colleen wishes to acknowledge the tremendous and diligent work of John Fisher, founder and Web producer of Tenant.Net. His site is a valuable resource for tenants seeking basic information about their rights, as well as a hub and dynamic source for networking and grassroots organizing. John is also the Web producer for Hell's Kitchen Online, a spirited community resource for anything and everything about Hell's Kitchen.
The statistics on this page were provided by Community Training Resource Center, a not-for-profit organization which champions the rights of moderate and low-income tenants. CTRC produces fact sheets on tenants rights and publishes useful research information promoting the preservation, improvement and expansion of affordable housing. CTRC can be reached at (212) 964-7200.
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