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Tenants and Advocates Rally Outside Yonkers City Court

Black Westchester Magazine

March 25, 2023

After Rally Outside Yonkers City Court Calling for Right to Counsel, Tenants, Advocates and Faith Leaders Observe Court Proceedings.

Dozens of tenants, attorneys, advocates, faith leaders and others in the statewide Right to Counsel and Westchester Right to Counsel coalitions gathered at Yonkers City Court, Friday morning for a rally to demand state leadership pass Statewide Right to Counsel (May-S2721/Joyner-A1493) and Winter Eviction Moratorium (Myrie-S1403/Kelles-A4093) legislation.

In particular, with some elements of the Statewide Right to Counsel bill in the Assembly budget, the coalitions called on the Governor and the Leadership to not back down from their moral imperative but to pass what New York tenants need and deserve: a fully funded Right to Counsel for ALL New Yorkers in ALL types of court cases that could result in displacement.

One of the speakers was People Before Politics Radio Show co-host Lorraine Lopez – a longtime advocate and activist in Yonkers – who shared her personal experience and how that made her dedicated to tenants who may not have the resources she has.

After the rally and press conference, coalition members lead a walkthrough of the Robert W Cacace Justice Center – located at 100 S Broadway, – highlighting the many barriers that pro se tenants face as they navigate court and face eviction without the support of an attorney. Low rates of representation continue to reflect the disenfranchisement of the majority of tenants in Yonkers City Court: in January 2023, there were 989 court appearances in Yonkers City Court – Legal Services of the Hudson Valley or Hudson Valley Justice Center appeared with tenants in 124 of those appearances or 12.5%.

After the tour, coalition members gathered in the courtroom to observe proceedings, followed by a debrief discussion.

Other speakers included Yonkers elected officials like County Legislator Christopher A. Johnson, Councilman Corazon Pinada-Issacs, and a representative from State Senator Shelley Mayer’s office, as well as Dennis Hanratty – Executive Director at Mount Vernon United Tenants, community advocate Lorraine Lopez, a few faith leaders and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

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