Brooklyn residents put Housing Court on trial
by Chase Collum
Mar 19, 2014 | 435 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Adams and Reynoso at Brooklyn Borough Hall
Adams and Reynoso at Brooklyn Borough Hall
slideshow
Borough President Eric Adams, Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna, Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Assemblyman Walter Mosley and Public Advocate Letitia James
Borough President Eric Adams, Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna, Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Assemblyman Walter Mosley and Public Advocate Letitia James
slideshow
Residents and tenants discuss problems in their community
Residents and tenants discuss problems in their community
slideshow
Several community groups gathered to take Brooklyn Housing Court to task in a mock trial held at Borough Hall last Thursday.

Led by Borough President Eric Adams, the mock trial included testimonials from tenants and community activists, as well as appearances by Public Advocate Letitia James, Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, and council members Antonio Reynoso and Robert Cornegy.

In his introductory statement, Adams lauded the advocacy groups who had coordinated the mock trial. He expressed his hope that through events like these, the public can become more familiar with government processes so they are not overwhelmed when they have to seek services.

“It is unfair to you the public that the first time that you come in contact with any formal governmental process, you have to get on-the-job training,” Adams said. “Those who are receiving social services from food stamps to WIC to any other services, they should know what to expect so they’re not intimidated.”

“Charges” leveed against Brooklyn Housing Court ranged from its lack of foreign language translation access to lack of proper facilities to address tenant issues. It was also highlighted that in Brooklyn’s Housing Court, located at 141 Livingston St., of the 15 courtrooms 14 are dedicated to landlord issues and evictions, and only one is used for addressing tenant issues and repairs.

What’s more, the city is renting the court facilities from David Bistricer, who has been on former public advocate and current Mayor Bill de Blasio’s worst landlords list since 2010. Unless action is taken, the city will enter into another long-term contract with Bistricer for the same facilities in the coming months.

In her testimony, one senior Brooklyn resident recalled a visit to housing court two weeks ago, where she was forced to wait outside in the cold with her two grandchildren for 30 minutes. It then took another 45 minutes for her to get into the elevator because there wasn’t enough room for her wheelchair. From there, it only got worse.

“I had to use the bathroom badly, but the door was locked and no one knew where to get the key,” she testified. “I had no one to leave my grandchildren with to find out where the key was located or who to get it from. During this process, I had an accident. I felt so embarrassed, it was horrific.”

Mosley also testified that he has been to housing court, “and it’s not a pleasant sight.”

“Equality does not live in housing court right now. Inequality unfortunately has become a permanent resident in housing court. I don’t say that to get any accolades because it’s shameful,” Mosley said.
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