Mayor signs bill to get low-income tenants legal help

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NEW YORK -

Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed a bill to get low-income New Yorkers help with fighting wrongful evictions.

Single father Randy Dillard was once hit with eviction papers and didn't know where he'd then go. He thought a shelter, perhaps, but he was able to connect with an organization to get a lawyer to fight back.

In 2013, only 1 percent of tenants had a lawyer when they went to housing court. In 2016, the city increased legal help available, resulting in a 24 percent reduction in evictions.

When the new program is fully implemented, the city will spend $155 million to cover legal costs.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. says the program also helps with greedy landlords.

"This makes sure that whenever we come together and raise up our communities that a greedy landlord has to think twice about thinking that they are going to force out the very people who are helping to better that community," Diaz says.

To have access to the help, residents must have a household income of $50,000 or less and call 311.

City officials predict it will serve 400,000 tenants.

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