New York city is the first city in the United States to enact a law making legal assistance available to all tenants facing eviction in Housing Court. In the last quarter of the 2018 fiscal year, 30% of tenants appearing in Housing Court for eviction cases were represented by attorneys in court, a substantial increase from the representation rate for tenants of 1% in 2013. As shown by the table above, NYC invested more than $142 million in civil legal services in FY2018, and in FY2019, increased total City funding or civil legal programs to $171 million, representing historical high points for both Mayoral and City Council discretionary funding for civil legal programs.
Legal Aid service groups generate income based on the caseload of each of their attorneys. As such, they are incentived to commence as many cases as possible. The last industry cycle represented a historic peak of landlord-initiated Housing Court actions. However, the passage of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, combined with the steady increase in the legal aid budget, may result in a peak of tenant-initiated actions.