Sara Wood '10: Holding Landlords Accountable in Brooklyn
I am spending the summer working as an intern at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A (Brooklyn A) in Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn A is a community-based legal services organization committed to providing high quality legal assistance to low-income individuals and community groups in Williamsburg, Bushwick and East New York. Brooklyn A provides free legal assistance to eligible individuals on issues such as community and economic development, domestic violence, predatory lending, consumer fraud, and preservation of low-income housing. Brooklyn A is a branch of Legal Services New York City, one of the largest providers of civil legal services to indigent people in the United States, serving more than 25,000 clients annually.
I work on a variety of cases in areas such as housing, public benefits and family law. I have spent the majority of the summer so far assisting on housing cases, as preservation and creation of low-income housing is currently a major issue. Gentrification is rapidly occurring in Brooklyn A’s service areas, which dramatically increases property values. This revitalization gives some landlords an incentive to illegally force or coerce long-term residents out of rent-stabilized and rent-controlled apartments so they can then renovate the apartments and substantially raise rents. As a result, there is a significant problem with landlords violating the rent regulation laws and the housing code by shutting off essential services such as heat and hot water, not making needed repairs, and illegally raising rents.
I will continue working on some complex housing cases throughout the summer, conducting legal research and writing, drafting pleadings, attending court proceedings and assisting with client interviews. I will develop client contact, legal writing and oral advocacy skills and gain practical experience that will be invaluable to my future career in civil legal services.