Carmen Vega Rivera on Gentrification | Politics Matters

In this episode of Legitimate Matters, William Parris interviews guest, Carmen Vega-Rivera - CASA Leader (Community Action for Safe Apartments) on the topic of Gentrification, Displacement, Affordable Housing, unscrupulous landlords and tenant’s The Right to Council.

Gentrification is a word used to describe “urban renewal” in lower income communities. While gentrification attracts higher income preppy tenants, the progression drives up rents and driving out long time, lower income residents. The onset often begins with influxes of an ambitious trendsetters looking for inexpensive housing, giving the neighborhood an avantgarde panache. This evolving status entices pacesetters who want to live in such a setting. The invasion often displaces disadvantaged, ethnic/racial minorities, changing the social character of the neighborhood.

On August 11, 2017, Right to Counsel was signed into law, mandating universal access to legal representation for low-income tenants. This means that tenants no longer must fear unjust evictions. Tenants no longer need to fear eviction as retaliation for organizing in their buildings or holding their landlords accountable. This means that residents have more tools to fight gentrification. This is a victory for all of New York.

This landmark agreement sends a strong message to NYC tenants that their lives, homes and communities’ matter, that the City won’t stand by as they are forced to navigate the courts without representation and that they will be legally protected. This is a huge step forward towards creating a more equitable and a just city.

The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition is made up of tenant organizing groups, tenant advocates, homeless advocates, senior advocates, disability advocates, legal services organizations and more! The campaign resulted in the passage of Local Law 136, which ensures that low-income tenants are represented in eviction cases by attorneys when they defend their rights and their homes. By 2022, Right to Counsel. coverage will be universal. To find out how this applies to you go to: www.evictionfreenyc.org.

Watch this episode of Legitimate Matters to better understand tenant rights. If you’re not in NYC, search for tenants rights in your city. You do have rights!